It was a week that didn’t feel particularly holy. The run-up to Easter Sunday was more like a stilted, slow limp — a week where I was already pulling a meal out of the freezer on Monday night because I was tired and I. just. couldn’t.

A wretched sore throat kept me awake past my bedtime Sunday night. The kids were out of sorts with sniffles and coughs, and even though we’ve been going to bed earlier than most of your grandparents probably do, dear reader, still the unusual nightly interruptions from the toddler who either just really needed a sip of water or had this dream about a puppy and there was a spider… it was enough to make a girl want to hit snooze twelve times when the alarm went off in the morning.

So, I wasn’t feeling great. The kids weren’t feeling great. Even the Hero Hubs, who is made of granite, marble and gloriously-dogged-consistency, felt, ya know, maybe 98% instead of his usual 100.

A family member an ocean away passed away, and we felt far away, heavy-hearted, thinking of his wife, his daughters, the sad way things came to an end.

The week dragged on, and it was about Thursday — I am regularly willing to admit to you all that I am a slow-learner — it hit me: If I can turn my attention to Christ, I can identify with Christ, especially in my sufferings.

Yes, I read the Bible pretty much daily, and still — it was Thursday. The week before Easter.

I pondered these thoughts, twirled them around in my heart like a lock of hair around my finger, and tried to just keep turning my attention.

Of all weeks, Lord, yes — this is a good week, and, strange as it sounds to say it, it’s a good week for suffering.

This was the week of Your greatest suffering.

You lived out Your suffering with determination, knowing it had a world of purpose.

You saw the joy set before You, and so You endured the Cross.


A dear friend called, who’d been going through some serious health issues and some significant suffering, and her voice beamed at the other end of the phone as she proclaimed that same revelation: we meet God in our sufferings, He uses our sufferings for our own good, and she added some powerful thoughts for me to keep twirling: “I love God so much, I just want to make sure that I am honoring Him, and pleasing Him, even in my suffering.”

When I don’t feel good? It’s probably fair to say I consider it a completely valid get-out-of-jail-free-card to kind of be a little bit of a brat. Sarcastic with my kids. Overly dramatic. Less than purposeful with my time, my thoughts, my words… my life.

But suffering is a Refiner’s fire, isn’t it? This place that draws these things out, from deep in our hearts. They bubble up to the surface, because the fire’s turned up under us, and, if we’ll let Him, the Refiner can skim that dross right off of us. If we’ll let Him.

If we’ll let Him.

I thought and listened and prayed. If I believe Your Word, my suffering has purpose, too. I can identify with you in Your sufferings and remember what You endured for me. I will find strength and purpose when I find You in my sufferings. They will produce endurance, perseverance, character, and so many good things in me. I am being made more like You.

Instead of presenting me with a glass of water and a fluffy pillow, life presented me with opportunities to give, to serve others, and to find joy in doing so.

For Jesus, the week that began with everyone crying Hosanna! quickly transitioned to behind-the-scenes schemes to capture Him, a mock trial, severe beatings, and eventually death on a Cross. But in His sufferings, He just kept serving.

He cleansed the temple. He kept teaching. He kept healing. He laid aside His garments and took a towel to wash His disciples’ feet.

The God who could’ve fought back in 1,000 ways took the beating, to serve the world by saving the world. He took the beating, stretched out His arms, put on our sin, and while Heaven looked away, when He’d given everything He was supposed to give, and taken everything He was supposed to take (for us) He gave His life, too.

The time between the Cross and the Resurrection must’ve been so hard for the disciples — when they could not yet see the purpose of the sufferings of Jesus. I imagine them, swallowed up by their own pain in losing Him. It was perhaps the longest, most miserable low point of their lives. They’d left everything to follow Jesus, and He was gone.

But hope was ahead!

And Sunday morning, the tomb was empty.

What did that mean? Jesus was Who He said He was and is Who He says He is. The Crux of the whole narrative of the Christian faith hinges on this very point: Jesus rose from the dead.

It changed everything. It renewed the disciples’ purpose, transformed their faith, and changed them from a motley band of unexpected choices to bold proclaimers of the Truth who turned the world upside down.

But what about us, two thousand years later?

We still live in a broken world, and we will suffer while we’re here. We watch the news and our hearts sink, thinking of the precious lives senselessly taken in Kenya. The refugees whose months are turning to years of displacement in Syria. A local boy lost his life in a farming accident and our town grieves this life cut short.

Easter has come, Jesus has risen — but everything isn’t fixed yet. This world still feels broken.

But we also live on a visited planet, walked by God’s Son, Who demonstrated the power to overcome evil, disease, sickness, storms and trials of every kind, and then, even death itself. This is where our story finds hope.

Where is hope without the Resurrection of Jesus? Where is hope if this is all there is?

Before He went to the cross Jesus warned His disciples that difficult roads lie ahead of them. {John 16} They’d be kicked out of the synagogues. People would kill them and genuinely think they were doing God a favor. Jesus explained that he wasn’t going to always be with them, He was going to the Father.

But He spoke words of hope to His disciples: “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

Like Jesus’ disciples, in the time between the Savior hanging on the Cross and the Resurrection, we live in an in-between. The Resurrection has taken place and Jesus has overcome. The world is still broken, but He is coming again. He is making all things new. In the meantime, we will have tribulation, trials and suffering, but now, He is with us.

Whether you’ve experienced a great and terrible loss or you’re just trying to keep putting one foot in front of the other in your day to day life, the gloriously good news of Jesus overcoming death is the hope we’ve all been waiting for.

This world feels very broken right now, but this world isn’t all there is, and the story’s not over yet.

Your story is not over yet — and you have the daily opportunity to make this place a better place to be. When you suffer, know that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those who are crushed in Spirit. {Ps. 34:18}

He is our hope, and He is near.

We can find purpose, we can find redemption, we can even find joy in those trials. He has overcome, and an entire world of people who believe His story can declare this Good News together: this story isn’t over yet!