Daily, I’ve been fighting to get past an array of feelings that at times overwhelm and at times are absent when they seemingly shouldn’t be. My mother-in-law’s illness, my grandmother’s accident/surgery/hospitalization, the pressures and struggles that have accompanied this sour economy and the transitions I have made in the last year in life on personal and professional levels (enduring a difficult pregnancy, moving, becoming a mom, finishing law school, moving again, starting my career, studying for and taking the Bar — trying to wear more hats than my head can hold) — it has surely taken a toll on me this past year. In truth, most days, I am not thriving. Most days, the most I can hope for is to survive. Most days I feel as though I am barely reaching that goal.
Today is Good Friday. The day we celebrate Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice: His death for us on the cross. The day we are reminded of the price that we were purchased at and the extent of His love for us: that He would endure such vile and undeserved punishment just to set us free, so that we might see Heaven someday and be with Him for eternity. This Easter season marks my 11th re-birthday. 11 years since I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord & Savior and asked Him to make me a “new creation.” As noted above, I do not always “feel” like a new creation. I do not always feel free through Jesus’ death on the cross. Mostly, I feel owned and consumed by my circumstances. I forget sometimes that I am His and that He is in me.
During this Lenten season, I committed myself to reading through the Gospels every morning on my way to work. I finished this morning, ending my journey through these books with the Gospel of John. Towards the end of this book, I re-discovered Jesus’ prayer for us. I’m sure I have read it many times before, but it “felt” new to me this year. After Jesus prayed for His disciples, He said:
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:20-26).
As a believer, I accept Jesus at His Word. I believe that what He says is true. There is no doubt in my mind. But I don’t always feel it.
The world tells us that we should live according to what we feel. Marriages are ended everyday because people just don’t “feel” that it can work, don’t “feel” happy. Decisions of great and little consequence are made on this flimsy and untrustworthy basis every day. As a woman, I believe that God gave us strong emotions and greater sensitivity than men for a reason. While our emotions and our ability to “feel” things so deeply is a gift, it can also cause us to make poor decisions, to give up when we ought to press on and to doubt what we know is true. I know that I have on more than one occasion…
This Easter, I am reminded that Jesus died on the cross to set me free, not so that I could be subject to feelings of depression, anxiety or doubt. He died on the cross so that I could be free, so that I could be in Him, so that I could seek and follow His will for my life, even when I don’t feel the joy that I ought to feel. Though I am seeking to stand on His Word, to discern and follow His will for my life, I recognize that it doesn’t necessarily mean that I will always feel joy. That being content may be the most I can hope for somedays. Most importantly, I’m reminded that what I need to recognize and that which I record here for what I hope will be an encouragement to others and pray will be a reminder to myself, is that Jesus is with me whether I “feel” it or not. He promised to work all things together for good. He promised to be the same today, tomorrow and forever. He promised that His mercies would be new every morning. I can stand on those Truths even when I feel that I don’t have the strength to stand on my own two legs. There is comfort in that whether I feel it as deeply as I should or wish I could or not.
As a Christian, I have the privilege of worshiping a Living Savior. This Easter Sunday, I hope it will be as powerful a reminder to you as it is to me that though on Good Friday Jesus died a painful, horrible death, On Easter Sunday and every day, He is alive. He is risen. He is risen indeed.