April 1, 2020 @ 8:00 AM

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Spring is indeed a season of hope as the whole earth awakens from the coldness and deadness of winter. Here in Minnesota we start to see new life again. Beautiful flowers start to appear from the still partially frozen earth, green plants sprout, and soon there will be buds on the trees. Birds chirp in the early morning hours. The best part of spring is Easter. It is indeed the season of hope. Easter is the first holiday to emerge out of the bitter cold of winter. Easter celebrates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Easter celebrates “it is finished” and the empty tomb. Easter is even more glorious than Christmas since it represents Christ’s completion of all He came to earth to do! I love the joy of Easter Sunday with the special hymns of praise, special foods, and longer daylight hours. It may not be especially warm yet, but warmer weather is not far off. I love the freshness of spring and packing away the winter gear.

But this year is radically different. As I write this we are in the midst of a unique and “unprecedented” COVID-19 pandemic.

What if Easter comes this year and we are still sheltering-in-place and our churches remain empty? Our President has said that he is hoping to see our churches open and packed full on “that beautiful Easter Day.” That is an outstandingly hope-filled statement, and I am praying for it to happen. But will Easter be any less glorious if we are still sheltering-in-place and not able to celebrate in a large Easter church service? What if there are no big Easter egg hunts with lots of children? Christians all over the world are praying for the end of this pandemic. But would Easter be any less marvelous and holy if it did not happen by Easter. The answer is “NO!” The glory of Easter does not depend on current events. The glory of Easter is a reflection of what Christ has already accomplished on the cross, evidenced by His empty tomb. Can we celebrate the risen Christ if we are not in church? Can we enjoy Easter without all the frills? Absolutely!!

There are lessons to be learned from this pandemic. I believe God sends trials and tribulations for a reason and for our good. As we are thrust into His classroom at this time, it is essential that we humble our hearts before Him. Let's not waste the opportunity to learn what God wants us to know. What are the “takeaways?” Are we trusting God through this trial and spending time with Him? Is it time for the world He created, and particularly those who know His Son, to come humbly before Him corporately and individually? Should we spend time in repentance and fervently praying for God's forgiveness and mercy? Rather than trying to fix the problem in our own human strength, perhaps we should respectfully acknowledge His power and authority over His creation. We need to humbly acknowledge that God is God and we are not. During the time of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, Psalm 107:5-6 tells us, “They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He delivered them out of all their distresses.”

Our hope is in the resurrected Lord Jesus,