Coping with Anxiety & Despair
These may be dark days, but Sunday is on the way.
It’s hard to celebrate a COVID 19 Easter. Many are in a dark place. The optimistic say that there is light ahead. Others say that this tunnel is longer and more dangerous than we can imagine. For them, the light is a long way off. None of us can say for sure who’s right. But one thing is certain: lots of people are suffering anxiety and despair. Maybe you are one of them.
Surely that’s how Jesus’ disciples felt. The week had begun on a high. On Palm Sunday, Jerusalem threw open her gates for the Messiah. Joyous crowds proclaimed him their king. The disciples were about to get a payoff for following this Galilean rabbi. They had long dreamed of a Warrior King who would throw off the yoke of Roman oppression and establish a worldwide Jewish kingdom. Each was salivating about the plum position he would get as a chief lieutenant in the King of kings’ new world order.
However, as Passover nears, storm clouds of opposition gather. On Friday Religion and State make an unholy allegiance to shatter their dreams. The crowds that cheered Jesus’ arrival are now a bloodthirsty mob demanding his crucifixion. Instead of a gold diadem, their “king” will be crowned with thorns. Passover night was a disaster. Judas had betrayed him. Peter denied him. The rest abandoned him in his greatest hour of need. Instead of becoming big shots in a new world order, they are now fugitives hiding out from the authorities.
Black Friday turns into Blue Saturday. Their Messiah is now a dead criminal. They saw his mangled corpse being locked away in a sealed cave. That tomb has become the grave for all their shattered hopes. There is no light at the end of their tunnel on this Blue Saturday. They have no idea what comes next, or how they will get on with the rest of their lives. They only know what we can guess in the midst of this COVID 19 pandemic: life will never be the same again.
Maybe today you feel like those disciples. Your hopes have been nailed to a cross of disappointment, and your dreams lie shattered in a dark place. All that remains is disillusionment, despair, and fear.
Dear heart, would you allow me to give you some Easter hope? Every tomb is really God’s womb. His Spirit, on that first Resurrection Sunday and today, is poised to give birth to new life. The blackness of Friday may turn into a blue Saturday, but Sunday is on the way. If Easter teaches us anything, it is this: it’s not over until it’s over, and even then, it’s not over. Every tunnel will see the light of a new and brighter tomorrow. Psalm 30:5 promises, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
Sunday changed everything for those disciples. What was the difference between Peter and Judas? Surely it wasn’t in their failure. How can a kiss of betrayal be any worse than the threefold denial of a friend? The difference is that Judas gave up too soon. On Friday night he despaired that there could ever be light at the end of the tunnel. So he gave in to suicidal despair and hanged himself. Somehow, Peter persevered for three more days. He got through his season of anxiety and despair long enough to see the light of his Resurrected Savior.
What a difference a few days can make! As followers of Jesus, we may be knocked down, but we get up off the canvas and fight another round. We keep on keeping on until that stone is rolled away, revealing new hope for a better tomorrow and a bright eternity. Grab hold of these Resurrection promises for yourself, and share them with your children, grandkids, family and neighbors [from a safe social distance for now]. Let everyone know that, with Christ, it’s not over until it’s over, and even then, it’s never over!
Dr. Bob Petterson