Celebrating Easter | Creighton University's Online Ministries

Finding Hope in the Easter Season

In this season of Easter, the messages are about hope and new life; joy and living in Jesus.
But how do we live a life of joy and hope when our own lives aren’t all we want them to be? 

Even the best family goes through challenging times and the happiest marriage has ups and downs.  Illnesses strike those we love and watching them suffer is a terrible weight to bear.  For many of us, life is full of burdens and disappointment.   

What are our lives really about?  Where is the meaning in them? Our marriage might be dull and lifeless, or worse, filled with anger and resentment.  Our children lead lives that can seem to have no values.  Family members create conflict with every encounter.  Where is the Easter joy?

Stop.  Take a deep breath.  Pause from life. 

Abide in me as I will abide in you.

Each one of us has an invitation from Jesus to live in him, to settle our lives firmly in his presence and love.  We are called to be in the care of this loving healer and friend and to carry that love with us as we live out our lives. 

The first step for finding hope in this Easter season is to stop and reflect on the love that is being offered to us every second of our lives.  We need to become aware of it again.  When we feel overwhelmed and fearful, we can take just a few minute’s break and remind ourselves that Jesus is with us, right now, in our pain.

Become aware of Jesus loving us and calling our names. 

You who are heavily burdened, I will give you rest.

We hear each word of that and remember his warm and endless love for us.
We hear Jesus call us by name. 
Now we can tell Jesus, our friend, about our lives and the hardships we find in them.

Given new courage and strength from Jesus, we look with new light and hope on our problems. 

One of the most helpful things in dealing with the challenges of other people is to remember that I can’t change the other person.  I can only change myself.  I can’t force my spouse to be more loving or interested in our marriage.  But, with prayer, I can ask how I can love my spouse better.  What could I try to make my spouse less angry or defensive?  Is my tone of voice nagging, again?  Can I soften it and ask for the grace to be more loving?

Can I remember that I can’t gain Easter joy or hope by telling my children, friends and other family members annoyed I am at my spouse? Telling others will make it harder for me to love that person?  I can’t be more hopeful if I am complaining about my spouse all the time.  I can’t be more hopeful if I carry anger around in my heart.  Perhaps the gift I need to ask for is to have compassion for my spouse’s situation, pain, and struggle.  It’s hard to be compassionate about the pain of someone who is hurting me.  But, I can pray for the grace to let hope and love into my heart to deal with a difficult relationship.

My children may be leading lives I see as without values or faith and bringing up their children in ways I don’t approve of.  I can pray for the grace to be patient and leave the door open.  They will not change in the face of my criticism, no matter how subtle I think I am being.  They will not be helped by my constant disapproval and my relationship with them can only be hurt by it.  The Easter hope is praying for the grace to be more loving and more patient.  By biting my tongue and holding my judgment, I can keep the door open in my relationship with them.  If they see me as a loving parent who is there for them when they need it, they may begin to talk with us about their challenges and this allows me to more peacefully see the goodness that does live in their lives.  Affirming that goodness is a building block in our relationships.

And for those in our lives we find personally unpleasant and spiteful, we pray for the grace to deal with them in a more loving manner.  We ask Jesus for the ability to see their pain, the pain that causes them to strike out. 

When Thomas saw Jesus after the resurrection, he was invited to put his fingers into the wounds of Jesus’ hands and “bring your hand and put it into my side.”   It is a startling and graphic image, of placing our hands into a deep wound.  But Jesus invites us to do that because we really don’t enter into someone else’s life until we can enter into their wounds. 

If we pray for the grace to be more compassionate and see this difficult person as one who feels powerless, diminished, fearful or insecure we can begin to see that behavior as a way of compensating.  Slowly, I might begin to see the bad behavior of the other person, the anxiety and fear and I might be blessed with the compassionate mercy with each of us receive from God.  Then I can be healing, soothing and comforting. 

But we can never help to heal someone we don’t love or offer security and safety to someone for whom we feel anger.

In the John’s gospel, Jesus offers Thomas, and each of us, an invitation to open our hearts and believe:
Do not be unbelieving, but believe.

That is the hope of Easter, that we can take our joy and belief and ask Jesus for healing for ourselves so that we are better able to cope with the worries we find in our everyday lives. 

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