AFTER A WINTER OF DISCONTENT — PEACE AND JOY
For many of us in the Midwest the winter has been hard and long. In our moments of weakness we forget that the severity of it that makes us uncomfortable is a consequence of sin. We forget also that snow itself is a blessing of God beneficial to the earth. The end result of forgetfulness is irritableness, and a consequent useless activity of lamentation.
But then spring approaches. Our heavenly Father has seen to that also. The sun is higher in the sky; it is warmer, the air begins to smell fresher, the flowers begin to peak out, and the birds begin to sing; the trees turn from bud to leaf. Then we tend to forget that which was, for the joy of spring and finally summer. God, who has promised continuation of seasons (Genesis 8) keeps promise.
The message of Easter is like that, and has the same effect as the spring with the summer following. In these days we need say it clearly. We need to speak what according to Scripture is the obvious. Christ Jesus, our Savior, is risen from the dead — bodily.
Easter is also the message that God the Father keeps His promise. Even now we rejoice in the fact of the resurrection, and in the promises of which it is the foundation: “Because I live, you shall live also” (Jn. 14:19). Indeed, for those who believe stands this wonderful promise: “Whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (Jn. 11:26).
Yet in this existence, wrapped in skin and imprisoned in this world, we tend to lose sight of the foundation and substance of our faith. Just as winter oppresses, if even for a short time, but passes away, so life itself with all its oppression and grief is also a short time. After the life of toil and tribulation comes the springtime and eternal summer of eternity — a new beginning, a new existence. One so grand for those whose resurrection from the dead is translated into the glory of that heavenly city where is “no need for the sun, or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light” (Rev. 21:22).
Rejoice! Even though for the time we must pilgrim through this life before attaining the fullness of what the Father has laid up in heaven through our risen and reigning Lord.
For us as well as, no doubt, for most who are reading this, a good part of our pilgrimage through this life centers around our church and our fellowship. It strikes me both as a pastor of a congregation and as one chosen by the Lord through you to serve the fellowship, how we may be inclined to forget the joy of what awaits us by reason of the present day to day activities and necessities of a confessional church.
Our life involves the necessity of standing upon the wall and standing in the breach. The spirit of compromise all around us in the church world demands it. Sometimes it seems like a long winter, made even longer at times by our fear of shadows, as it were; by fear of that which is not there. The simple joy of proclaiming the Gospel, and the personal application of the Gospel comfort, can so easily be diminished or forgotten in the fight, real or imagined.
Sometimes it takes an illness by which one is confronted with a life and death situation, or even a funeral, to appreciate the value of balance between the necessary contending for the faith, and the simple appreciation of the fruit of our contending, which is found in the blessed Gospel of forgiveness, peace, and hope of heaven through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thankfully, that tension too shall pass away as surely as winter passes.
It shall pass away in the Father’s time because Christ is risen from the dead. He who is the breath and life of the Church shall take it and its individual members to the home above. It is only because of the reality of the Savior’s resurrection that John could confidently declare, with feeling: “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)
That will be the ultimate restoration of joy. The ultimate breath of fresh air for all who believe and trust in Jesus, our risen Lord. The end tour winter, “For Christ, the Lord, hath risen–our joy that has no end” (TLH, 205).
— Pastor Daniel Fleischer