For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 ESV)
Easter is a time of celebration, a time of remembering and exalting in the most wonderful of truths. It is a time to honor and praise our Lord Jesus for the miraculous work of salvation, for his sacrificial, brutal, horrific death and for his glorious and triumphant resurrection. It is a time for joy–at least it has always been before. This year, mixed in with the usual joyous celebration was a secret time of sorrow for my husband and I. While we reveled in the incredible grace shown to us through the cross and that empty grave, there was a very real sense of pain and awareness of the loss we experienced months ago when our little girl was taken from us.
You see, we were “supposed” to have an Easter baby. If everything had gone “according to plan,” our little girl would have arrived by now, possibly even on Easter day. Our little boys would have gazed down in wonder at a bundle of joy wrapped in pink blankets held by an adoring mother. But this was not meant to be, this was not the Lord’s good and gracious will. Instead, the past week has been a reminder of the dark days of trial when we buried our tiny little girl in the earth and drew near to our Heavenly Father, begging him to wash us with his gracious presence. It was a time of sweet grief for the daughter we will never raise and a time of remembering our loving God’s faithfulness to be our all in all.
It is fitting that the one we named Resurrection, was due to be born on Easter. Our little Anastasia is a constant reminder to us of the life that is yet to come. There is indeed something more substantial and more glorious just over the horizon of this life. There is a coming kingdom that our finite minds can hardly grasp here on this decaying planet. Our bodies which are quickly wasting away, growing older with each passing minute, march steadily to an eternity with the loveliest of Saviors. How our hearts grown for the day when we will stand in the presence of our God, bathed in the righteousness of Christ, fully undeserving and yet, because of Christ, deserving of the full manifestation of the love of God! How rich will our inheritance be when we live unhindered by sin and in perfect communion with our Savior! There will be no more suffering, no more loss, no more sorrow, only joy. Unending joy.
In a way, the tragic death of our little girl has made Easter all the more poignant, all the more imperative. For, if there is no resurrection, we my friends are to be pitied. If Christ did not raise from the grave, then we are lost, and disgustingly obsessed with a false prophet. But what glorious hope we have in our Risen Savior. There is one who has conquered death. There is one who, by the power of his own might, rose from the grave forever making impotent the power of sin. This Christ, this marvelous Christ, has promised to not only free us from the shackles of sin, but to release us from the penalty our sins deserve. Our Death-Crushing Savior has promised to present us to his Father pure and blameless, marvelously fit for an eternity of glory.
I couldn’t help but cry as we sang songs to our God this Sunday morning. Not because I was overcome by sadness, but because the pain of this world is real and horrible at times and the truth of the future coming of our King is a glorious and incomprehensible thing. He is coming back again–what marvelous hope! He will return for us in all his splendor and usher us into an eternity of joy. Unending joy.
Our victorious King lives… and so shall we.