I know...that title just sounds totally wrong doesn't it?
I mean, how can the greatest, most glorious event in the history of the world hurt? The resurrection is the hope of the world - our only hope. It is life conquering death. It is light shattering darkness. It is the truest truth of the world...the heartbeat of creation.
Because of the Resurrection, we we have hope, light, truth, eternity, forgiveness, joy, breath in our lungs. It's everything. Absolutely and Amen.
So then, how could it hurt, right?
Because we're humans in a fallen world, that's why.
Two years ago was our first Easter without my Mom. That day, I was clinging to the hope of the resurrection. Clinging to the truth that life conquers death. Clinging to the reality that my Mom was in the glory of Heaven on that Easter Sunday, and trying to feel joyful in that truth.
But joy didn't come that day. The pain of that day was too much. The resurrection hurt that Easter Sunday because despite the truth that I really did (and do) rejoice in my Mom's resurrection, the truth is that I didn't want her to be in the glory of Heaven that day. I wanted her to be in my kitchen. I wanted her to show me how to bake a ham. I wanted her to be dying Easter Eggs with my kids. I wanted to hear her telling me, "Rebecca, I think you've eaten enough jelly beans!"
I want all those things today too, but the pain has lessened. The joy of resurrection is healing my heart. But oh that day hurt. I can't even look at our family Easter pictures from that day because I can feel my pain through the pictures.
On that Resurrection Day, by 3:00, when I should have been hiding eggs for my kids, I was in bed with the covers pulled over my head, crying because I just needed the day to be over. Even my six-year-old was like, "This is the worst Easter ever! Everyone is crying and mad! It's supposed to be happy!" Guilt upon guilt, right? It was supposed to be the most joyous day of celebration ever, and I just couldn't fake it anymore. Although the reality is that death has lost its sting, and life has swallowed up death forever (1 Corinthians 15), my personal reality that day was that I was deep in the valley of the shadow of death and it stung terribly.
And you know what? I've come to peace with that experience that Easter Sunday. I've come to peace with the fact that though Jesus' tomb was empty, Jesus knew that I was still going through the shadow of death. Because, my friend, this Risen Savior is in fact my good shepherd who was leading me through the valley of the shadow of death. He knew that in my deepest heart, I really was rejoicing in the resurrection, but the emotions closer to the surface of my heart were just still too entrenched in pain. That day, the resurrection hurt.
But Jesus got it. He's been there. Even before he raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus wept. He knew that Lazarus would be alive again shortly, but the reality of death still brought Jesus to weeping. Yes friend, he gets it. He knows the pain of death and sorrow better than anyone. And He leads us through it.
So what about you? Maybe you're there now. Maybe you're planning your Easter menu or stuffing plastic eggs full of jelly beans, but maybe in your heart, the resurrection hurts. Maybe you're stuck on that Saturday 2,000 years ago...the day that is today...when the tomb is still closed and the sting of death and tragedy is still so much your present reality.
Just in our circle of friends, we have friends who are spending this Resurrection Sunday as their first Easter newly divorced. Easter will hurt. Where is the hope in the death of a marriage? We have friends who are spending this Resurrection Sunday newly laid off and having no income in the foreseeable future. The valley of the shadow is painful on their unknown journey. We have friends who've just lost loved ones and perhaps they, like me two years ago, just can't get excited about their loved ones being in the joy of Heaven because they so desperately want their loved ones with them at the dinner table.
We have friends who've just lost babies to miscarriage and friends going through infertility, for whom all the little girls' Easter dresses and all the baskets filled with candy are just painful reminders of what they don't have. We have friends who've just received frightening diagnoses and the valley of the shadow of death seems imminent. Another friend is struggling with depression and cannot find the right medication, leaving her in pain and tears every day.
Joy feels out of reach to most of these friends.
For these friends, and perhaps for you, the Resurrection hurts. It hurts when you know you're supposed to feel joy but all you can muster up is sadness.
And my friend, that's okay. Two years ago when I crawled into bed crying on Easter Sunday during what should have been Easter Egg Hunt time, I just felt shame and guilt for being unable to celebrate properly and joyfully. It took me a long time to realize that God is bigger than my pain. It took me a long time to realize that God knew my heart that Sunday. He knew that my heart rejoiced in the resurrection even though my eyes cried tears of grief and pain all day. He knew that on my own journey, I was still in the valley of the shadow of death but was clinging to the promise of the Resurrection as much as I could.
He knew, because He was right there with me.
Friend, if the Resurrection hurts for you this weekend, I pray the peace of God will cover over you. I pray that you'll know that even though it feels like the stone has not yet been rolled away from the tomb, that you'll cling to the reality that the stone really is rolled away.
And even if right now you can't force emotions of joy, that you'll settle your heart on what is true. And settle your heart on the fact that it's okay if today, and even tomorrow, you just need to keep journeying through the dark valley...one foot in front of the other might be all you can do right now. That's okay. Because, dear friend, the Resurrected Savior is the One who leads you through that dark valley. Our Risen Lord walks through the dark valley with you, and His empty tomb is your assurance that someday, dawn will come to your dark valley.
Someday, the valley of the shadow of death is actually going to end...and not just when you get to Heaven. But even on earth, the present pain you're journeying through right now will actually lessen.
So, friend, if tomorrow the Resurrection hurts, please know because of the Resurrection, light will again pierce through your present darkness. Because the Resurrection really is the heartbeat of Creation and the truest truth of the world. Even when it hurts.