Once again Spring is in the air; the trees and flowers are in bloom, the weather is beginning to get warmer, and the world is awaking out of the winter doldrums. It is a time of hope, renewal, and new beginnings. Many of us have just experienced a wonderful time of celebration as we remember the empty tomb. For a moment we live with the expectation that once again everything is right in our world. Then again maybe not.
For years counselors have noticed a strange occurrence in the Spring and specifically the month of April. While it is not the most scientific way to gather data, we are what we Google. According to Google Trends the month of April brings a significant increase in the search for depression, anxiety, pain, and stress. It seems that while the earth is in a time of hope, rebirth, and renewal, we are not.
I refuse to discount in any way shape or form, depression. There are medical reasons that cause some people to struggle with depression, anxiety, and stress. I would never tell someone who is clinically depressed to “let go and let God.” That would be pure pablum. But I do not think that everyone who is searching cures for depression and anxiety suffer from a medical problem.
Paul says in Romans 6; As Christ was brought back from death to life by the glorious power of the Father, so we, too, should live a new kind of life. Resurrection means that we are new people, living by a new standard, a new life. But many of us who have experienced the death through our baptisms have never experienced the peace and joy that comes from living in Christ. There are many of us who are struggling in this life because we have forgotten that this life is not about me. That can be seen in the things that cause us frustration and depression.
Have you ever had car trouble and thought, “Why me God?” Have you ever missed a flight and though, “What did I do to deserve this?” When a water pipe breaks in your wall, is your first thought, “This is what Job must have felt like?” OK, maybe not to that extreme.
The truth is that most of us believe that this life is a movie, where I am the star. Because we experience and see everything that happens to me, we get the false impression that life and this world is all about me. People are here to make my life better, things exist to give me joy, after all God so loved me that He sent Jesus to die. That’s why when something goes wrong, a relationship ends, our microwave breaks and our world falls apart. In times of stress we lose the joy that comes from the resurrection.
In talking to His disciples, Jesus told them that He came so that we might have life and have it to the fullness, but many of us do not feel His joy or live in His fulness. In the kingdom of God there is a new way to live. Those who are living in the resurrection are called to live with an understanding that there is something bigger than us going on in this universe. We were created to bring glory to God, because we were created for His glory. While God pours out His extravagant love in our lives, He does so that we can bring glory to His name.
What if God allows us to endure struggles so that we can show His glory (Rom 5:3 & 8:17-18)? What if God allows hardships to enter our lives so that we can show His grace in a time of uncertainty? What if God allows us to face tragedy, so we can show the hope of the resurrection? What if God really meant what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”?
Would that change the way the way you live? Would that re-frame the way that you see the movie of your life? Instead of being here to be served, would that lead you to look for ways to serve and welcome others into your community?
The resurrection invites us to live a new life, a life of service. The resurrection invites us to live in the Kingdom of God where the greatest is the one who serves. Because of the resurrection the currency is not how much you own, but how deeply you love. Because of the resurrection our joy comes from the investment we make in one another. Because of the resurrection we long and strive for community, a place where we can love, uplift, bear with, encourage, prefer, greet, forgive, support, forgive, and accept one another. The beauty of the resurrection is that we are invited to live with Christ as His hands and feet. The beauty of the resurrection is that in times of joy or times of trial we have the wonderful opportunity to bring glory to God and His kingdom. The beauty of the resurrection is that once again we are reminded that it is not about us, but about the one who created, saved, sustains us, and will one day take us home to live with Him.
We often thank God for the death of Christ, that time in history when God bridged the chasm we created because of our selfishness and sinfulness. But until we learn how to live in thanksgiving for the resurrection, to live a new kind of life, we will never experience the abundant life that comes from living like Jesus.