If You’re Feeling Discouraged Today

It’s the Monday after Easter, and Jesus is still risen.

Even if the cheesy potatoes are all gone and you didn’t get seconds. Even if some unnamed family member spilled dye on the carpet. Even if you had to return to a routine that feels difficult or dull, not particularly rested from the holiday weekend.

Or, more seriously, even if it was hard to sing songs about the resurrection because death and suffering came a little too close to you this year. Even if you thought of your sins and struggles in the darkness of a Good Friday service and the list was much longer than you thought it was. Even if, this Monday, you are lonely or frustrated or confused or bitter or fearful or just plain tired.

We ask, “Death, where is your sting?” and that’s the answer. It’s here, all around us.

Death still stings…but it’s temporary. With the resurrection of Christ, that sting is no longer ultimate for those who believe, and that’s why we sing as if death has already been defeated, because it has.

It’s the Monday after Easter, and Jesus is still risen.

From the time I was old enough to have a favorite Bible verse that wasn’t John 3:16 (and cocky enough to pick an entire chapter, because that sounds more impressive) I loved Hebrews 11. The entire Old Testament in one chapter, I’d say. What’s not to like?

As I got older and learned about details like context, I realized the point of that chapter wasn’t to give a CliffNotes version of OT history. It was to encourage suffering believers who were just about ready to give up.

Which is odd at first glance, because a lot of the stories don’t seem that encouraging. Abel gets murdered. Abraham and Sarah have a grand total of one son out of the promised multitude. Moses is stuck outside the Promised Land.

And strangest of all to me was the story of Joseph. You may remember him from the massive chunk of Genesis that’s devoted to his life. Great story, right? Lots in there that would encourage suffering people. Sold into slavery, unjustly imprisoned, then blessed by God to rise to second-in-command over all Egypt, seeing the fulfillment of his dreams and forgiving his brothers. It’s all very happy-ending, dreams-come-true kind of stuff.

And here’s what the author of Hebrews chooses to record about our friend Joseph: “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.”

Joseph

Also not the highlight of most children’s storybook versions of Joseph.

His bones? Really? Did anyone else even remember that part of the story? I had to double check to make sure it was actually in there. (It is.) Why, with all of the incredibly dramatic material to choose from, would the Hall of Faith chapter excerpt that little detail?

Maybe because that was the hardest promise for Joseph to believe.

In a chapter devoted to examples of faith, the author of Hebrews didn’t choose to say that slightly arrogant teenager Joseph had faith that his brothers would bow down to him, or even that prisoner Joseph had faith that God would lift him up to provide for the starving people of the land.

Joseph’s greatest act of faith was believing that God would bring them out of Egypt someday. It shows he remembered, even from his cushy palace, that Egypt was not really his home. I think Joseph is honored for his last will and testament because it was the action that proved he believed in a promise that God never fulfilled during his lifetime.

I say this because of verses 13-14 of Hebrews 11: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.”

That, to me, is strangely comforting. Sometimes we see God’s blessings in our lives…and sometimes we look to our future hope of heaven and wave at them in the distance, knowing we’ll be there someday. And in the meantime, we wait.

I love Hebrews 11 even more now that I see it for what it really is: a chapter for the hard days, when we feel frightened and lonely and weary and profoundly out of place.

Today, I want to go out there and leave instructions about my bones—to do what God is calling me to even when I don’t see the results I want.

I want to love people who may not have anything to offer me but their problems and neediness and burdens, abandoning my expectations for what I should get in return. I want to give without getting credit for it. I want to believe something I know is true even when I don’t feel it.

Because maybe, when God looks at our lives, the act of faith he finds most worthy of note isn’t singing praises on Easter Sunday, or even confessing sin on Good Friday. Maybe it’s when we wake up after it’s all over and choose to believe that it’s the Monday after Easter, and Jesus is still risen.

We are waiting…but we’re in good company.

3 comments

  1. Profoundly encouraging and much needed today… as I return to “business as usual” and two out of three children have nasty coughs (which also prevented us from attending church on Easter Sunday, which was a major bummer). Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s