Easter Gladness

Job 19:25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
    and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
    My heart faints within me!

This has long been one of my favorite passages of Scripture.   In the midst of acute suffering, Job proclaims his belief in the Redeemer and the Resurrection.  Job’s flesh was being destroyed, and yet still he knew that one day healing and wholeness and full consolation would be his.

Last Sunday, my pastor used this text to introduce his sermon on the resurrection of Lazarus.  I spent most of the service choked up, trying to hold back tears of grief and joy as I renewed my faith in the God who enters our sorrows, who weeps with our grieves, and then changes our ashes of mourning into the adornment and beauty and gladness of a bride.  It was a bad day for me; I spent four hours at a baby shower for a friend, watching other women play with their perfect babies and bask in the glow of approaching motherhood.   I fought to hold back the tears over my own infertility, my own physical brokenness.  I was in crippling pain that day, from endometriosis.   And I struggled, as always, simply to hear through my deafness.

In all of that pain, I needed to be reminded of the Resurrection.   It sometimes feel as thought I am daily walking through “the valley of the shadow of death.”   My body fails me, and then tortures me.   I am barren, with no life growing within me.   There is nothing to contradict the idea that I am a desert, an “owl in the wilderness, an owl among the ruins”.  And yet – there is the Resurrection.   Jesus has put death to death; He has removed the sting of the grave.   He wept with Lazarus’ sisters, sharing in their grief, but then he removed its cause.   He called Lazarus to come forth – and Lazarus came, healed of his illness and restored to his life.   I yearn with every atom of my being to hear His voice calling me forth, out of death and grief and sterility, into the joy of His presence.

This is the hope that I cling to: the promise that I can drink from the rivers of living water.  That my desert will become a garden.   That my suffering has meaning, I don’t have to endure it in fatalistic futility, because not only Christ’s Passion has given meaning to all suffering, and Christ’s Resurrection has given us the sure comfort that death and pain are NOT how it was meant to be, and NOT the state that God will leave us in.   Someday, my body will be healed, the tears will become laughter, and I will bask in the fulfillment of the promises in Isaiah:

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
    break forth into singing and cry aloud,
    you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

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