A grave can be beautiful. When Brooklyn was little she loved to go with my Mom to the cemetery to decorate the graves. It was a peaceful place, with beautiful flowers and meaningful stones. People visit to reflect on the life once lived. It’s a physical resting place in tribute of the one who once walked the earth. But I don’t like cemeteries.
I can count the number of times I have visited my brother’s and my dad’s grave sites. My very first memory of a cemetery came the day I was discharged from the hospital on July 11th 1988. You may have pictured a grand departure from the burn center, but it wasn’t. It was somber. My dad was there to take me home. (side note: my mom was home preparing the welcome home celebration).
On our way home, Dad turned into the cemetery. We pulled up beside the steps opening to the sidewalk which led to Jon’s grave. I don’t remember how my dad physically got me up to the grave. He probably carried me from the car. I do however, remember him kneeling down beside me and touching Jon’s marker. I took in the dates- January 18, 1979 to April 27, 1988. I remember Dad crying. I remember hurting inside more than the hurt I had sustained on the outside. I remember feeling empty, alone, and sadder than I believe many adults have ever encountered. I was seven.
Death didn’t claim me on April 27, 1988, but death, nevertheless, overwhelmed my life. Death has a sting. It’s realized in the days, unguaranteed and the questions, unanswered.
When we feel the grief of the grave, it is then, that we can understand the significance of an empty one.
When I celebrate the empty tomb on Easter morning, I’m celebrating from understanding the grief of a filled one.
For me, knowing Jesus overcame the grave means He overcame that dark day my brother was put into one.
In life, there is no greater defeat than death. Death is final. My mom has frequently said, “as long as we’re breathing, there is hope,” meaning, things can always change. It’s encouraging to think on such a statement when things are awry.
When the job has been lost; when the diagnosis has been given; when the spouse has forsaken or even abandoned the covenant; when the child is rebelling; when the flood waters rise and the storm keeps raging, we can remember there is still hope for better, because there is still life.
But actually, there’s more. There is hope beyond life.
We all aim to make choices we feel will result in a happy life. Even the most self-destructive of choices are made not necessarily to create misery but to escape it; all for the desire to just be happy.
So what helps us to be at peace with the life we have on this earth, even when this life has seemed pretty crummy?
It’s knowing that this isn’t all there is.
No matter what trials we face in this life, this life is nothing compared to the next. (James 4:14)
It’s a truth applicable for every day we live, not just on Easter Sunday. It may be Wednesday, but He is still alive! The celebration isn’t confined to one day a year—it’s continually realized in the face of life’s darkest days and hardest places.
Rejecting the gift Jesus provided to us on the cross, and the victory He established on Resurrection Morning, is allowing death to accomplish the intended purpose. One choice, one choice, to accept and pronounce Jesus as Lord and Savior, conquers death and the grave forever.
This knowledge allows me to walk as an overcomer. This knowledge gives me the stride of a victor.
Scarred bodies, loved ones dead- not the end, because He rose again!
Philippians 1:20-21 NIV~ I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
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