We read in Philippians 4 to always be thankful. Actually, it says to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always.” That’s tough sometimes. Hard in COVID when we’re separated from family, when a family member is ill and we can’t be at their bedside as we usually would, and even harder when someone we love dies and end of life traditions have to be severely modified.
It’s easy to be thankful when your job is enjoyable, your family is well, your children are progressing and healthy — those times when the world is bumping along nicely in your corner.
But what if it isn’t? If you’re experiencing troubles such as a break-up in relationships, a strain on finances, or a health issue. Then the stress and worry of the situation may cause lack of sleep, cross words, or actions you regret later.
I’ve struggled with rejoicing always in difficult circumstances. Yet we’re told to rejoice.
The disciples were not rejoicing in their Lord’s death by crucifixion. They were scared witless, hiding behind locked doors, likely afraid that they’d be found and sent the same place next. The women who took the herbs and spices to the grave the morning after their Sabbath acted out of necessity. It was something they did in any death.
And then the tomb was empty. And two angels standing nearby freaked them out. The promise they’d heard about rebuilding the temple on the third day — that they hadn’t understood — had happened. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” one said.
As we say in our "light bulb" moment, when things come together and become clear. Or clearer. I picture them feeling that way.
The disciples did not believe the women. They had to see it for themselves. The empty tomb, the stone rolled away, and then their Saviour showing up in their secret place, regardless of locked doors. I imagine slack jaws and mouths wide open. “What?” they might have said, in disbelief. Later at the seashore when they thought they’d try fishing again, the livelihood they’d left to follow Jesus. They saw a man building a fire and heard an invitation to join him. Was this another dream?
That stranger turned out to be Jesus. Then Jesus asking Peter three times to “feed his sheep” and Peter saying, “I know, I know.”
I suppose now they could rejoice again, or give thanks, that their Lord was alive. The best miracle of them all. We don’t know; perhaps they wept from relief.
What do you make of this? Do you rejoice? Do you give thanks in such an all-powerful God who can bring his son back to life? Can you rejoice in the miracle of the seasons in this world that God created, that spring has come once again? Can you sense that certainty of grace for us? A hope that things will turn around or that our prayers will be answered? I hope you can, because it certainly gives me hope.
Carolyn Wilker is a writer, editor and storyteller from southwestern Ontario.