I went into the garage to look at the plants I have over-wintered and will soon take outside. Imagine my surprise when my hibiscus was already blooming — in the dark! This bright yellow bloom was a ray of God’s sunshine in a totally unexpected place; just like Easter.
Jesus Christ shattered everyone’s expectations.
His Kingdom was spiritual, not physical. He loved his enemies rather than working for their downfall. He embraced the untouchables of society. He submitted to treachery, violence, and crucifixion, which was counterintuitive for everyone, even his closest confidantes. And, most importantly, he achieved his goals through dying.
“Look, I am making everything new!” says the risen Christ (Revelation 21:5). And so He has—and is. The great truth of Easter is redemption: buying back what was destroyed by sin and creating life as fresh and pristine as the Garden of Eden. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The very foundation of our hope is starting over with an entirely different kind of life. But we keep trying to save what has been spoiled, rather like trying to get food from the old peelings of life instead of planting new vegetables. We hang on to what cannot live when all along the answer lies is abandoning it, dying to self, and accepting new life in Christ.
We must come to the end of trusting ourselves and our resources and instead trust God and his resources.
And this is very hard for us, who have been born into a world that treasures the physical and seeks security in material possessions.
Could it be that the current coronavirus pandemic can help us at last? Can we stop seeing the negative and look for opportunities that God is laying before us on every hand? Can we begin to live as Jesus taught, that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions, and that he will care for us every day according to that day’s need? The apostle Paul lived on the edge of disaster for much of the last part of his life. Imprisoned, beaten, flogged, misunderstood: you name it, it happened to him. See (2 Corinthians 11:23-29.) From jail, Paul wrote “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).
Paul discovered that true hope grows in the most unexpected places.
In Acts 16:16-34, he and Silas sat, their feet in iron stocks and chained to several soldiers, their backs clotted with blood from inhumane beating with rods. They were there because of proclaiming that Jesus brings life for everyone in places no one was looking. The mercenaries, religious leaders, and merchants were scared to death at their shocking words, because it meant that everything they depended on for security was being jeopardized; so they instigated their beating and jailing. But Paul and Silas realized that the violent reaction was proof that God was working, that he was turning the world upside down, and they were a part of it! they began to sing—at midnight. It was so unheard of—music in that hellhole of a reeking prison—that the prisoners were dumbstruck. And then a massive earthquake shook the foundations of the jail, springing open all of the jail cells and shackles on the prisoners’ arms and legs. As the dust settled, the jailer, certain that the prisoners had fled, drew his sword to kill himself. When Paul called out, “Don’t do it! We are all here.” It was too much for the jailer. He rushed into Paul’s prison cell, fell to his knees, and asked how he could be introduced to, and live, in a world like that.
The magnitude of Christ’s resurrection overwhelmed them with its wonder and they couldn’t help celebrating.
Note: The world of Paul and Silas was in crisis. Their lives were imperiled. Instead of complaining, however, they could see the marvel that was occurring. The magnitude of Christ’s resurrection overwhelmed them with its wonder and they couldn’t help celebrating. When Paul first came to Christ, the vision on the road to Damascus knocked him off his horse and struck him blind. In that jail cell, it was happening again: a realization of the power of God to make all things new, particularly people.
God wastes nothing. Let us not waste this crisis by only asking God to keep things as they are. Let us ask him to make everything new, especially us!
Perhaps, in the middle of this crisis, God is answering prayers that we’ve been praying for years.