Thursday, April 25, 2013

From Destruction to Beauty: MOPS Devotional

I go to a MOPS meeting on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, and am in charge of devotions for this year, so on those Thursdays I'll be posting here what I say there.

It's been a difficult few weeks, hasn't it, with all of the unexpected cold, snow, and ice?  It's April.  We're supposed to be getting spring fever and letting our kids outside and running to the basement when we hear the tornado siren.

But instead, we've had an extended winter.

What we've all experienced is having to change our plans.  We've all had to surrender control.

I've been feeling a little out of control lately.  It seems like I just can't quite get everything all together.  My mind feels like a jumbled mess--maybe it looks like my kids' rooms.  I feel out of sorts because I don't quite have a routine--or, rather, I don't have the routine that I want to have.  And so, it seems that every day is a day to change plans, sometimes minute by minute.  I think I will have some time to sit and write, because the kids are playing upstairs.  I get settled in, write a few sentences, and then they magically appear and need one thing after another.

I keep thinking that if I could just have an hour, two hours, three hours, or if I could just have an inspirational spot to sit with the perfectly comfortable chair, and if everything was just so, then I'd be able to write well and write a good quantity.  Or, if I could just stick to a schedule, I'd have my house clean all the time, my meals planned and cooked, and I'd set a beautiful table and meal time would be fantastic.

But nothing ever really happens like we expect.  Life always has interruptions.

And when the unexpected and unanticipated happens--whatever it is, we get frustrated and grumpy.  Maybe we even want to pull out our hair and scream and cry.  Our lives may have been going along smoothly, just day by day, normal life, and then something happens, like the storms we had.  We had plans to go bike riding or play at a park or plant gardens or put away all the snowpants and boots.  And then we had to change our plans.  And we had to wait.

When one of the storms hit, I wrote that we should think of it not as "always winter and never Christmas", but instead, "always Christmas", because just like an unexpected storm, Jesus came into the world unexpectedly.  He threw off the plans and the future that people thought was there and took it in a different direction.

And really, isn't that all of life?  How many of us expected that we would be exactly where we are in life today?  I certainly didn't.  I didn't know where I'd be, but Iowa certainly was not anywhere on my radar.  Maybe you expected to have fewer kids or more kids.  Maybe you expected to be in a career you love.  Maybe you expected...anything more, anything different than the reality of life.

And so, I tried to look at the storms differently.  I decided that since there was nothing I could do about it, I wasn't going to feel irritated and I wasn't going to complain.  I was in awe of the beauty that the storms brought, and tried to see it despite the destruction that also came. And I think it worked.  I looked out at the snow and felt calm and peaceful, if only for a short time.

It is those glimpses of peace and beauty of which we are most often unaware, because we have to look harder for them.  When we are disappointed, upset, or angry and it seems as if destruction surrounds us, we wonder if beauty can even be seen there.

But it can.

The plans we had were just delayed, our lives were tossed around, but they still went on, and soon, we'll put the storms behind us and enjoy what we've been waiting for.   The snow has mostly melted.  This weekend, temperatures are supposed to get into the 70s.   The long winter will give way to a beautiful spring, just as beauty can come out of our own trials in life--no matter how big or how small.

I want to share one verse with you, Revelation 21:5, and then I will play you a song that I think goes along very well with everything we've experienced the last few weeks, and gives us hope when we have bad times in our lives as well.  The verse is:  And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new."

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bombs, Murder, Prayer, Love, and Grace: My Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bomber

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised how elated people were when the suspect was found.  I shouldn't be surprised at the reactions calling him vulgar names or the idea to let him out and let the people of Boston at him in some kind of mob revenge.  I shouldn't be surprised that people don't care if he is read his rights or not.  I shouldn't be surprised that people are calling for the death penalty.

But I am.

I am surprised, because so many people that I know identify as some kind of Christian denomination, whether Catholic or Protestant.  I am surprised, because a common refrain heard from Christians is that the United States is a "Christian nation" or that it is "founded on Christian values".  I am surprised, because 77% of adults in the U.S. identify as Christian.  We follow the same Jesus, and we read the same Bible (well, mostly).

We all have Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" in our Bibles:
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you  --Matthew 5:44
We all have Paul's words to the Romans in our Bibles:
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. --Romans 12:2
And so, I ask my fellow Christians.  During the high intensity of yesterday's news, were you praying for this young man?  Did you think that he has a mother and father who love him?  Did you grieve for them?  Did you grieve for the hardening of this young man's heart?  Did you hope for his death, or did you hope for his life, not only so that we could have answers, but so that we could pray our God would work in him?

Do we really believe that knowing Jesus is transformative, or is that just something we like to say during Bible study or Sunday school, so that we all nod our heads in agreement?  Is it something we just like to tell those non-Christians, so that we can make sure they get their ticket into heaven?

Do we really believe that Jesus can change people's lives?

If we don't, then we have no business calling ourselves Christian.  If we don't, we just need to stop posting our daily Bible verses on Twitter and Facebook.  If we don't, then why are we in church each Sunday, singing hymns or praise songs?  If we don't believe it, if we haven't experienced it, then why do we want others to follow Jesus too?

But if we do believe Jesus can change people's lives, then we believe that Jesus can change anyone's life.   Even you.  Even me.  Even a murderer.  Paul taught us that.
You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it.  I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.   But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased  to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being,   nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.  Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days;   but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother.  In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!   Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia,   and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ;  they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy."  And they glorified God because of me.   --Galatians 1:13-24 
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.  -- Galatians 6:18

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Always Winter and Never Christmas

I know my latest post in my series about loving God should be posted today, but it's not going to happen.  Sorry.  It's not finished yet, even though the one scheduled for next week is actually almost complete.  Such is life, right?

Anyway.  Today is April 17, 2013.  It's supposedly been spring for almost one month now, yet this morning I packed my son's snow pants in his backpack to take to school with him, because it is snowing.  I've heard we could get an accumulation of 5-8 inches. And last week, we had an ice storm one day and snow the next, which caused all kinds of destruction around town--driving around and seeing all of the downed branches made it almost seem as if a tornado had come through.

I've seen comments about it being "always winter and never Christmas" and people looking for something positive about this strange cold weather in spring.

Even though I dislike being cold, and I dislike winter the most of all the seasons, I have found myself not minding it.  It is peaceful and pretty.  It makes me feel as if time is standing still or slowing down, even as we have our regular daily activities.  It is, perhaps, a little bit of food for this introvert's soul.

And, if the snow makes us even mention Christmas, maybe that is good.  While we take a little time to think about the incarnation at the official time of Christmas, most often it is overshadowed by cookies, presents, parties, and Santa Claus.  Maybe, without all of those distractions, this unseasonable snow gives us a good reason to think about the incarnation now.

"Why the Incarnation" was a blog challenge Tony Jones issued last year during Advent.  I never managed to get my post done for it, unfortunately (it was turning out to be way too long, and I didn't know how and what to edit).  But now, with the snow and the thoughts of Christmas, perhaps I'll think some more on it, because if the incarnation matters, then it doesn't matter just at Christmas, but all year long.

What does it mean to us in April, just weeks after we have celebrated the resurrection, that God became incarnate?  What does it mean to us on the days we aren't forced to think about it, those ordinary, non-celebratory days of life, that God chose to dwell among us in the person of Jesus?  Maybe, it is on these ordinary days that the incarnation should matter the most, because we can celebrate that with which we most relate:  the humanity of God.

We can read the words from Paul's letter to the Philippians in which he explains how we too can experience the incarnation:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.   Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,   who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,   but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,   he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross. --Philippians 2:3-8
We can experience it by having the same mind as Jesus.  The mind that puts our power and privilege aside in order to help others.  The kind that first looks to the interests of others.  The kind that helps us to kill our selfishness and love others.

And, maybe, that is an answer to "Why the Incarnation?"  Without it, would we really and truly understand humility and selflessness?  Would we know how to serve others?

So today, as I look at the unexpected, unanticipated, and unseasonable snow, I will think of Jesus, who came unexpectedly and in an unanticipated way to show us what love really is.

Maybe, today, we should think of it not as "always winter and never Christmas", but simply "always Christmas".

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: Refuse to Do Nothing by Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim

I received a free copy of this book from InterVarsity Press for the purpose of this review.

Before reading Refuse to Do Nothing by Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Yim, I knew nothing about the topic of human trafficking.  Nothing. I fall into the category they write about on page 60, when they write
"When we have spoken about modern-day slavery, women have often stopped us midsentence, saying, 'I can't hear it!  It's just too much!'  So we stop.  We bite our tongues, but inside we're screaming, 'Are you kidding me?  There are thousands and thousands women, girls and boys trapped, often beaten and raped night after night for the profit of their slaveholder, and you, in the comfort of this coffeehouse sipping your latte, can't hear it?"
Their criticism of those of us who "can't hear it" is well-deserved.  They note that we live "in the midst of the comforts of our sanitized society" which makes it "difficult to imagine the nightmare of others' lives" (61).

Honestly, I'm not even too sure where to begin with the review.  The book was so eye-opening that even though I finished it a week or so ago, I'm still processing everything I learned.  And so, I will share with you some of the quotations that stood out to me the most (I was tempted to underline the whole book, though).
"Poverty and extreme levels of gender inequality play a significant role in why women and children make up more than eighty percent of trafficking victims.  Lack of education, low social status and gender discrimination contribute to the viewing of women and children as commodities to be bought and sold." (64)
"the average age when a commercial sex worker turns her first trick is between the ages of eleven and thirteen" (76)
 "The act of manipulating a child into prostitution is now referred to as 'child sex trafficking,' and those who were once called pimps are now referred to as 'traffickers.' (83)
"Most men buying sex are ordinary guys who come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations.  Some are teenagers and young twenty-year-olds who visit a brothel in order to lose their virginity.  Others might be retired college professors, megachurch pastors or successful businessmen.  Every age and nationality is present among men who are willing to pay for sex." (86)
"the first online exposure to porn happens at eleven years of age and that thirty-five percent of boys aged thirteen and fourteen say they've viewed pornographic Internet content 'too many times to count'" (91)
That's only part of trafficking.  There are domestic household employees, migrant workers, restaurant workers who are also victims of human trafficking.  The numbers regarding modern-day slavery is astounding.  It's no wonder we want to stick out heads in the sand.

But we can do things, each one of us, from being educated to the signs of slavery to buying fair-trade products.

At the end of each chapter are sections for reflecting and taking action.  What I liked about these was that they were so short.  It makes it manageable and not so overwhelming to just do a couple of little things here and there.   This book is full of information and resources.  Read it.  Put something into action.  Experience uncomfort with the topic in order to help others.

What will I do?  I'm not sure, yet.  But I have learned just this week that a friend of mine is interested as well, and I hope that she and I will work together to help raise awareness.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Love God With All Your Heart

This is the second in a series about the commandments to love. 
The first is "The Greatest Commandments".

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,  and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.   "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"   He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'   This is the greatest and first commandment.   And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'   On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."  --Matthew 22:34-40  

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." --John 13:34-35

I think that loving God with all of our hearts is probably the easiest and most natural way to love God.  It is our hearts that we most identify with love, because it is in our hearts that we feel love and in our hearts that we feel the pain of lost love.  It is our hearts that overflow with emotion, and our hearts that break.  

Our contemporary worship songs are full of love.  Some of them, without the lyrics that say Jesus or God, could just be another love song (take that however you want to).  More often than not, they evoke some kind of emotion from us that we generally associate as coming from our hearts.  But often, the emotion we feel when we sing those songs is fleeting, or at least it is for me.  I may feel emotional during a song, and then, when the song is done, and we move on to something else, that emotional level is not there.  I'm not saying it isn't valid, or that it isn't love.  It is.  But it is only partial.  It is only temporary.

In the first post of this series, I wrote that this commandment from Jesus comes from Deuteronomy 6:5 and I want to try to come back to that in each successive post as well so that we can explore both the Hebrew and Greek meanings of words (as best I can, with the help of BibleWorks; I am not a language scholar by any stretch of the imagination--so if you know more than I do regarding languages, please, leave a comment and educate me!).  

The Hebrew word for heart in this verse is b.b'lwhich BibleWorks tells me means inner man, mind, will, and heart.  And in Greek, we have something similar.  The word is kardi,a which means heart, inner self; mind; will, desire, intention; interior (of the earth).  To look at the depth of that, rather than just saying "heart", shows me that it means so much more than just a "loving feeling".  There is something more to it, something that is, perhaps, essential and permanent to who we are as people.  If we love God with all of our hearts, that love must be there after the song ends.  It must be there when we do not feel it.  It must be there, woven throughout that inner core of who we are.  If our hearts fail to beat, we are dead.  With every beat of our hearts, then, we should love.  If we fail to love, are we also, in a sense, dead?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Undisciplined Prayer

This was originally posted at Soul Munchies.  Due to SM being on hiatus, it's been moved here.

This has been a long, undisciplined month.  I knew when I began that prayer does not come easy for me, but I thought I'd be able to something for this month's experiment.  I had the idea to start out easy, because in a book I'd just finished, the author wrote about doing something simple with prayer, like giving God the morning's first thoughts.  I immediately grabbed onto that idea and asked a Jewish friend of mine what the first blessing is upon opening one's eyes.  He told me, I marked the page in my siddur (yes, I have a Jewish prayer book.  Two, actually) and put it right by my bed.  And then I used it once.  So I asked myself "Why don't I just say something I know, like "this is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it", instead of my usual, "ugh, it's morning already?" thought.  That should work better for me, and it did...for a couple of days.  

And so, I have failed in saying a simple morning blessing or prayer.  I don't really like praying out loud at meals (or out loud any time).  I haven't spent any time deliberately sitting down to pray.

Prayer is just talking to God, people say.  Sounds so easy, right?

But what do you do when you don't really enjoy a lot of conversation?  What is prayer like for someone who likes to think a lot, to write a lot, but not to speak a lot?  Are my thoughts prayer?  My random, jumbled, stream-of-consciousness thoughts?  Do they count?  Do they matter?  Does what I am writing now count?  Because if not, it's just one more reminder that I am a failure at prayer.   The thought of spending hours trying to talk to God is just one that makes me go, "ugh".  Isn't that awful and un-Christian of me?  

These thoughts of prayer make me want to cry, because really, it seems that if prayer is just talking to God, I suck at prayer.  

But what if prayer is not "just talking to God"?  What if prayer is really about communicating, regardless of how it is done?  Maybe my random thoughts are prayer.  Maybe when I whisper the words to Gungor's "Beautiful Things", that is prayer.  Maybe my month on meditation was actually prayer, because I was communicating with God, not so much by what I said or wrote, but because I was listening for what God had to say to me.

I think we forget about that aspect of prayer, the listening.  When we constantly describe prayer as talking to God, it makes it a one-way conversation, and what good is that?  

In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes that "In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God's thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills" (33).  He then goes on to pose an intriguing idea about "God's will".  He writes that "the most astonishing characteristic of Jesus' praying is that when he prayed for others he never concluded by saying 'If it be thy will.'  Nor did the apostles or prophets when they were praying for others.  They obviously believed that they knew what the will of God was before they prayed the prayer of faith.  They were so immersed in the milieu of the Holy Spirit that when they encountered a specific situation, they knew what should be done.  Their praying was so positive that if often took the form of a direct, authoritative command: 'Walk," 'Be well," "Stand up."  I saw that when praying for others there was evidently no room for indecisive, tentative, half-hoping, 'If it be thy will' prayers." (37).


If that is what prayer is, then I'm in.  I would much rather be communicating with God, back and forth, throughout my day, in countless tiny ways that I can't even explain, in words that I am not even speaking with my mouth but ones that come formlessly out of my heart than spend a pre-determined amount of time doing it.  This type of prayer speaks to me.   This type of prayer is something that I believe I have experienced through my intuition (for people who are not intuitive, this will be very hard to understand, I know).  More than a year ago, when we were contemplating where to move, I knew, I knew which of the options that presented itself would be the one.  We still had to go through an application and interview process, of course, but deep down, I knew where God was leading us, and I didn't feel as though I had to "pray about it".  

Often, prayer is a last resort.  We are faced with a situation and we then decide to pray about it to get the answer.  But what if we were supposed to have been in prayer all along, even if we didn't know what the situation was?  Can we be like Jesus and his disciples, as Foster describes them, that they just knew the will of God because they were so immersed in the Holy Spirit?  Is that really what it means to "pray without ceasing"? (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  

I have tried--and failed--for years to pray the way that I thought I was supposed to pray.  I think that maybe it's time to give up trying and just pray the way that I pray best:  intuitively, in the Spirit, and sometimes, without words. 

This upcoming month will be the discipline of fasting.  I don't know if I'll fast from food or something else, if I'll do it for a day, a week, or all month.  I do know that fasting is often connected with prayer, so I guess I'll see how that goes, too.  If you've got any tips from your own experience, let me know!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Greatest Commandments

He Is Risen!  And we are a people who will be known as followers of the resurrected Jesus by our love.  And yet, we often seem to be known more by our rules, don't we?  Despite our best efforts at speaking about grace, we still want to come up with a lot of Christian rules.  I suppose it is only normal.  Rules are black and white and easy to understand, whereas love, and much of what Jesus teaches about how to be his disciple is more difficult to understand and to practice.  

I had a conversation recently that reminded me about a post I wrote a few years ago about the 10 commandments, and how I was confused as to why so many Christians believe that they are mandatory for Christians but the other laws in the Hebrew Scriptures are not.  We place so much importance upon them but we don't talk as much about the two commandments that Jesus actually says summarize all the others.  

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,  and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.   "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"   He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'   This is the greatest and first commandment.   And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'   On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."  --Matthew 22:34-40  

Plus, Jesus also gave a new commandment:

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." --John 13:34-35

Love.  Love.  Love.  It's a word we toss around so carelessly.  I love my husband.  I love my children.  I love coffee.  I love chocolate.  Our English definition of love is partly to blame, because we only have that one word we use, whereas in Greek (which is the language of the New Testament), there are 4 different words (eros--sexual love, philia--brotherly love, agape--self-giving love, I had the 4th one and lost it, sorry). 

The commandment in Matthew, where Jesus sums up the law and the prophets, comes from two places in the Hebrew scriptures.  Loving God comes from Deuteronomy 6:5, which says "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."  This is part of what is known as the shema.  In this part of Deuteronomy, the author is explaining that the law that was given is meant to bring life to the people (days may be long, v 2) as they enter this new land.  But the law is not just an arbitrary bunch of rules, the law here is combined with loving God.  And in the New Testament, when Jesus creates a new people, from two to one in him, the law is love.  

In a recent post, Frank Viola wrote that "People are generally wired to lead with one part of their soul. Some are mostly heady/intellectual (mind), others are mostly emotive/feelers (emotions), and others tend toward being mostly volitional/doers (will)."  While that was about leading, I think that we also tend to pick one of the ways in which we are to love God and elevate it above the others, instead of having them work together.

But what does it mean to love God with our hearts, souls, and minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, and how to they fit with each other?  That's what we'll explore in this series.  

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Resurrection After Easter

He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  (or, the Minnesota version I learned on Sunday, He is Risen, You Betcha) filled my Facebook feed on Easter.

And on this most joyful day of the year, I struggled to find joy, and instead felt sadness.  At church, I almost immediately burst into tears when someone innocently asked me "do you have any family around?" and the answer was no.  And then, a few minutes later, the subject came up again, and I did start to cry.

I've never felt so sad and emotional on a holiday before, and I have celebrated many of them far away from family.  Why was this Easter different?  I really can't answer that.

I remember one time thinking about all of my moves and a verse from the Bible about being a wanderer came to mind.  I thought it would probably make a great part of a blog post until I looked it up and saw that the speaker was Cain.  I mean, really, who wants to identify with the first murderer?  So I used Abraham's story instead, in "A Wandering Alien" (and also explored the idea of moving in "Reflections on My Past Year"). I still feel as though I am wandering, and I wonder if I ever will not be wandering.  Living in the middle of the country even feels like a metaphor.  We're a 2-3 day drive from either of our families, and our church here is becoming our family.  But still.  When it comes to holidays, most people think first of their biological family, not their church family.

After church, we came home, I made breakfast, and after that started preparing our afternoon meal (roast chicken, potatoes, gravy, peas, rolls).  Throughout the day, during the cooking, the cleaning up (both the house in general and the food prep), and I think I even started a load of laundry that night, I thought, "this seems like an ordinary day, but it's supposed to be a special day."

As I've mulled that over in the days since, I have thought about some of Jesus' teachings about the kingdom.

  • "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;  32 it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."  (Matthew 13:31-32)
  • He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." (Matthew 13:33)
  • Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 18:4)
Mustard seed.  Yeast.  A child.  These are small, ordinary, everyday things.  

While the Resurrection is of the utmost importance in our faith, how do we see it in light of the everyday?  When we've left church on Easter Sunday and the music, flowers, high emotions, and prizes (ugh!) are behind us, when we've finished celebrating the Resurrection with our church family, what do we do next?  How do we see new life in our own lives, in those lives that we live every day?  Can we see it when we are cranky about waking up in the morning after sleeping next to a snoring toddler who sneaks into our bed?  Can we see it when we are yelling at our kids?  Can we see it when we just don't feel like getting dressed and just throw on ratty clothes?  Can we see it when we have to pick kids up at school and make breakfasts and lunches and dinners and clean up and vacuum and dust and then turn around and do it all over again?  Can we see the resurrection when we ache inside for those we can't be with?

Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday is important, yes.  But that's the easiest day of the year to do it.  That's when it is impossible not to.  

But what about when it is hard?  How do we see new life when all we hear about are people we know getting cancer or getting hurt in car accidents?  That is when it is challenging.  That is when we cling to hope in spite of our doubts.  That is when we need it the most--the times when it seems the furthest away.  The times when we feel more like Good Friday or Holy Saturday than Easter Sunday and hopelessness creeps in.

But it's not hopeless.  That's the point.

He is risen.  Yes, He is risen indeed.  

Is he risen in your life?