A pandemic rages, and death is everywhere.
It looms overhead like a low, dark cloud. It drowns out our church bells and voices and mocks us. Everything bears its witness: empty halls and dark storefronts and absent grandparents and sterile shields where smiles used to be. Streets are too silent and thoughts are too loud. One, two, 800, 100,000 gone — the toll rises.
Friends and paychecks disappear, leaving only vices. Morale sinks low as screen time skyrockets. Another hour lost, another drink consumed. Goodbye to gyms, hello to binging.
One girl looks longingly at the cap and tassel she’ll never wear. A young man says goodbye to his father, so recently in remission. New parents weep quietly, separated from their little one in the NICU. A bride puts away her gown, and with it a lifelong dream. Only uncertainty is certain now. Only death seems to grant rest from the unrest.
Look for the light at the end of the tunnel — the conventional wisdom. But these are unconventional days. The tunnel extends on and on, growing darker with each lay-off, each citation, each cough, each headline. Where is the light?
Today, church gathering places are vacant. This holy day, light filters through stained glass and falls on empty pews, while brothers and sisters around the world are kept apart. Communion and fellowship are condemned. We know that love regards the health of others, but what about spiritual health? What about souls? We succumb to more darkness and more death.
But darkness has swallowed up the light before, when 2,000 years ago the Savior we celebrate was crucified. Sin and death prevailed that day. The earth shook, and the rocks split, and the grave swallowed the King. What weight and what dread that a longed-for Messiah would come only to die a gruesome death. So much for hope. So much for deliverance. The light at the end of the tunnel was snuffed out when the Light of the World was crucified.
But it was finished.
The grave could not defeat life. Darkness could not overcome Light. A beam pierced the black tomb as the stone was rolled away, revealing only grave clothes in the dust. “He is not here, for he is risen, as he said.”
He is risen indeed, sitting in glory next to the Father. The same power that raised him now lives in those who place their trust in him and yield to his will, longing for his imminent return. The Light of the World crushed sin and darkness, robbing their power and bringing new life to dead sinners without hope — and not only life, but life abundant and eternal.
Maybe it’s in the darkest of days that we’re most aware of the resurrection — and more in search of the Light.
Oh, death, where is your sting? Oh, hell, where is your victory?