Easter. The word evokes images of painted eggs, chocolate bunnies, and Starburst jelly beans (my favorite) nestled in plastic green grass in a woven basket. It also might inspire thoughts of bright colors, radiant sunshine, and joy. After all, this is the most significant event for the Christian – the culmination of our faith, the redemption of our souls, and the rising of our Savior from the dead. It is indeed the most joyful of events, but it was preceded by the darkest of days and the seeming victory of evil. If I’m being honest, oftentimes I can relate to the darker proceeding days, more than the joy that followed. As we move through our lives, we are often called to times of crisis, fear, confusion, grief and darkness, and that can often feel more real than the joy of resurrection. 

One Easter I found myself in such a place: the reality of death hitting home more than resurrection hope. I felt unable to tap into the excitement and exuberance of those celebrating around me. I felt so burdened by the griefs of my life, that I was resistant to the hope the Risen Savior was offering me. As I was wrestling with my doubts and sadness, God brought a verse to me through a podcast I was listening to. 

“I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains, I will smash down the gates of bronze and cut through the bars of Iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” – Isaiah 45:2-3

As the podcast speaker so aptly pointed out with this verse, God goes before us. Jesus went through the deep darkness of false accusation, betrayal, torture, agony, and death, to forge a pathway between us and God. So often we want to focus on the happy ending and we overlook the deep darkness that had to be gone through before Easter could arrive. Jesus went before us into that darkness, and now He goes with us into ours. We are not alone in the dark times of crisis. He’s experienced all we have and more, and He stands with us to strengthen us in the pain and smash down barriers to hope. He calls us by name, and knows the number of hairs on our head at any given second. He is Emmanuel, “God with us,” and nowhere is this made more evident than in the personhood of Christ. Through His life and death, He has secured our hope, even when life feels very bleak and hope insignificant.

So, as we walk through our pain, Christ walks with us. 

As we trudge through darkness, He brings His light. 

And when evil tried to have the last word, He rose from the dead. 

His brightness is made all the more radiant in the presence of darkness. His strength is made perfect through our weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Moreover, He has guaranteed hope and salvation for us. It may feel a more theoretical concept at times, rather than fact. Yet, it stands true. Not only has he crushed the power of evil by His resurrection, but He has guaranteed our hope, our happy ending. It may not come in the ways we wish or long for within this life, but He has opened up a pathway to God for the next life and it CANNOT be closed. Our hope is non-negotiable. It always exists, even when it feels elusive. 

So, as you journey through this life and face the myriad of troubles and joys that come your way, may you remember the Savior who went before you and suffers with you. May you see His presence in your life in new and unexpected ways. And may you seize hold of the hope obtained for you by Christ.

Because, beloved – it is finished and He is risen indeed. 

Written by Cara Huber