Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 11:23 NIV
I’m writing this in a blizzard.
The windows are plastered with snow, the junipers bowing under the north wind. I can’t see my neighbors’ house across the pasture.
Didn’t we wear spring pastels, decorate with colorful flowers, have egg hunts just yesterday?
Right now, Easter seems like some kind of April Fool’s joke.
Until I remember: Easter is not a day or even a celebration. Easter is an event…an event which supersedes circumstances.
And Easter changes everything.
Horatio Spafford knew that. A successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago during the late 19th century, he suffered loss after loss. First, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 wiped out his considerable investments in the Chicago waterfront. Then his only son died.
In an effort to recover from his grief, he planned a trip to Europe with his wife and four daughters. At the last minute, he had to remain behind. Off the coast of Wales, their ship was struck by another and sank in twelve minutes. All four girls—the youngest, age 2– were drowned.
He boarded the next ship he could to join his heart-broken wife in England. Legend tells it that when they passed over the spot where the ships collided, he wrote the famous hymn which begins:
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like the sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Spafford could write such words because he “held unswervingly to his hope”…a hope anchored in the resurrected Jesus. He knew his suffering would be redeemed, his tragedy would not have the final say.
We don’t sing “It is well” because we are happy. Happiness is a feeling–which comes and goes like our fickle springtime.
We sing “It is well” because we have joy. Joy is deep knowledge, the pilot light of faith burning in the core of our soul. Joy knows the truth of Easter: Jesus is faithful, His promises are true. Joy proclaims that, because of Easter, life wins. Joy knows that, no matter what life throws at us, a greater good is coming.
On the night before His death, Jesus told His disciples: “…I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22)
We believe will see Him—and those we love—again. We believe will live forever in a world made new.
Like Spafford, our hope is anchored in eternity.
Because of Easter.
LORD JESUS: Help us hold on to our Easter hope. Amen.
First published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle, April 8, 2018.