Summary: Our hope for times of sorrow is in a redeemer who is alive!
What does Easter mean to you? A Sunday School teacher asked her students this question and one little girl answered: “Easter means that we will be eating egg salad sandwiches for the next two weeks.” Well, Easter certainly means more than that. Easter for us means the birth of hope in the midst of our sorrow.
In a recent country song the singer proclaims that he is “a man of constant sorrows.” However, I do not know that this man has ever known the sorrow that Job knew. Job is described in the Bible as being “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” Yet, in just a short period of time, God allowed everything except His life to be taken from Him. He lost all of his wealth, he lost all of his health, and he even lost all ten of his children. His is a story that prompts us to ask, “why do bad things happen to good people?” But, Job never lost hope. Even when his wife urged him to do so, Job refused to curse God. Instead, he held on to his faith that the God he served was a living God and was able to comfort him in his time of sorrow. And, furthermore, he anticipated a time when he would stand in the presence of this living God and never more have to face the pains this life has to offer. His testimony in chapter 19 is the same testimony for any one who has the Easter hope living inside of them.
If there is any thing that is true in this life it is that we all will go through our trials. Sometimes, like Job, our troubles seem to come upon us like an avalanche that catches us unaware. On September 11, 2001 our nation collectively knew the suddenness of tragedy. As we watched those towers fall, we all sat with a sense of trouble and fear. Many in our community have recently found out that they are going to have to deal with the dreaded disease of cancer. Many are having to deal with the loss of a job and are wondering if they will be able to make it financially. We wonder where the hope is for our times of trouble. But the good news for all of us this morning is our redeemer tore apart the chains of death itself and rose victorious from that Garden tomb. Our hope this morning is in a redeemer who is alive and well today and desires to come and comfort us in our times of sorrow. Our hope this morning is in a redeemer who has promised us that he will come back for us and where He is, there we shall be also. Our hope this morning is that “our redeemer lives!”
Little Philip, born with Down’s syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls. Typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences, according to an article in Leadership magazine. But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully. The Sunday after Easter the teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs. Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that lovely spring day, find some symbol for new life, and put it in the egg-like container. Back in the classroom, they would share their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in surprise fashion. After running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table. Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one. After each one, whether flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh. Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, That’s stupid. That’s not fair. Somebody didn’t do their assignment.
Philip spoke up, That’s mine.
Philip, you don’t ever do things right! the student retorted. There’s nothing there!
I did so do it, Philip insisted. I did do it. It’s empty. The tomb was empty!
Silence followed. From then on Philip became a full member of the class. He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose egg.
Do you have a heavy heart this morning? Do you wonder where your hope is? You can return today to that garden tomb and hear the angels proclaim once again:
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”