When the War Has Been Won But the Battle Still Rages

“Christ overcame death as the last enemy. …To live in the light of resurrection — that is what Easter means.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
(Bread and Wine~Readings for Lent and Easter)

It’s pouring rain here in Alabama.  The gutters are overflowing as the clouds continue to leak from their saturated condition.  I’m sitting in Mama’s chair listening to the sound of the rain as it drops hard on anything in its  way between the sky and the ground.

I love a good rainy day and our flowers and vegetables appreciate it too as they drink in the nutrients that keep them alive; but I wouldn’t want it to rain all the time.  I can appreciate the rain and its benefits …knowing the sun will come out again and brighten the world around me.  I’ve lived long enough to see the rhythm of rainy days and sunny days…the ebb and flow of life.

In the same way, trouble comes like rain …pouring suffering and pain, anxiety and fear, depression and sadness –overwhelming everything in our view.  Sometimes it may feel as if the rain will never stop …the situation never change …that family member or friend will never open their heart again …there will never be enough money to cover the needs …that longing for love will never be experienced …health never restored …loneliness always a companion …that prayer never answered.  It seems to pour on everything we love with great force.

But the death and resurrection of Jesus reminds us …the sun will shine again.  We know that deep down — even though it seems long in coming. Storms come. Clouds overshadow.  But the rhythm continues and light eventually breaks through the darkest days.

“The Resurrection of Jesus is a sign of God’s purpose and power to restore his creation to its full stature and integrity.  Just as death could be seen as the culmination of all that is wrong with the world, so the resurrection can be seen as a pledge of God’s ultimate victory over the disorder which plagues his creation on account of the fall. …we are given hope that the remainder of the powers and forces that confront us are similarly being defeated and their power broken.  The cross spells freedom.”

Alister E. McGrath (page 271, Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter)

The very One they were trying to crush–they actually lifted up when they nailed Jesus to the cross and raised Him up for all the world to see.  The cross became a sign-post — a Declaration nailed and written in blood — announcing freedom for all.

“…the Son of Man must be lifted up,  that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  

(From John 3 NIV)

In the resurrection, Jesus won the battle that had been raging since Adam and Eve first walked through sin’s door — taking  the whole world into prison with them.  It had been a long time coming, but the Savior of all mankind had now crushed the enemy of our souls and stormed through the gate  with a winning streak — sealing the “win” for all eternity …taking all who choose to follow Him through the Gate named Jesus.

The reality is this —  The war is over.  The enemy defeated.  Jesus won!

The problem is …the battle still rages.  We’re still on planet earth.  Life is hard.  Victory seems allusive.  We still struggle.  Suffering is all around us.

But what if …

What if we lived in light of the victory Jesus won on the cross!  What if we lived with that hope and assurance that all is truly well …redemption is in sight …hope restored …God’s power available now!  

Alister E. McGrath tells a story of  prisoners  during World War II who got wind the war was coming to an end.   Although they still “remained prisoners, they knew that their enemy had been beaten.  It would only be a matter of time before they were released.  And those prisoners, I was told, began to laugh and cry, as if they were free already.” (from pages 274 & 275, Bread and Wine~Readings for Lent and Easter)

What if we lived as if we were “free already” even though the battle is still raging before us?  “The resurrection declares in advance of the event God’s total victory over all evil and oppressive forces–such as death, evil and sin.” (Alister E. McGrath, page 275)

What if we lived in the reality that the Light will shine again — in fact, already shining!  You and I got to know the Suffering Savior  during the journey through Lent but isn’t it also time to know the power of the Resurrected Savior! How sad  it would  be if suffering and death were the end.  What hope would that give?

As I write this, my laptop just flashed a warning that my battery power is “running low.  Plug in your PC now.” Quickly grabbing the power source, I continue typing out the truth God is giving–wondering if the Holy Spirit is giving me a real-life illustration …

Grab the Source! Plug in!  Let the Light of Jesus illuminate your days.  Take heart, my friend and let these words from God  remind you that He already won and there is hope for today!

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

11 For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;

14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:6-18 (KJV)

And sure enough, the clouds parted ways as the sun began to shine through and my sister-in-law– who is getting ready to have another round of chemo — called and reminded me that those who believe in Jesus Christ never really die!

Hallelujah!  He is risen!  “O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” I Corinthians 15:55 (ESV)

But the proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well. …In the end, his will, not ours, is done.  Love is the victor. Death is not the end.  The end is life.  His life and our lives through him, in him.  Existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery, and benediction than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream.   Christ our Lord has risen.”

Frederick Buechner (Page 292, Bread and Wine~Readings for Lent and Easter, Plough Publishing)


 

This week’s reading included chapters 47-53 in Bread and Wine~Readings for Lent and Easter, Plough Publishing.

Stay on the journey!

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