Lenten Thoughts: Spring follows winter as life follows death

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The Perry Ministerial Association will not hold weekly Tuesday Lenten services and luncheons this year, but rather association members will be sharing a weekly reflection with the community here in this space. This week’s reflection is by the Rev. Terry Wilkinson, chaplain at Tyson Fresh Meats in Perry.

We invite you, if you feel inclined, to send an offering or donation to the Good Samaritan Fund that supports our community outreach and assistance program. Those donations can be sent to Perry Ministerial Association, P.O. Box 156, Perry, IA 50220.

This Easter many believers may emerge to worship like the early crocus flowers from the ground, chilled by months of winter winds and seasons of bitter cold.

Memories of loved ones lost due to illness or still at risk remind us that our spirits are wearied and wounded by a year of crisis. A grieving heart prompts us to ask, “Is God offended if I come to worship with a heart of sorrow?” and “Must I hide my woundedness when I come before God?”

The answer from God, if you were to hear him speak, would be a very tender, “No, child, for the Holy Scriptures state that Christ is ‘a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with our grief.'” (Isaiah 53:3).

Further reading would bring to mind Psalm 22:1,12-18, where the psalmist prophetically describes the sufferings of Christ and Jesus’ cry, ”My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus was not uttering these words to complete a prophetic check list but was crying out of the pain of a wounded body and spirit. Taking the sins of the world upon Himself, He was suffering, dying and alone, abandoned for a time as God turned His face away from His Son.

Faithful believers across the ages have offered up prayers of lament as we ask, “How long?” and “Why?” or “God, have you forgotten about me?” Three passages of scripture offer hope to those who come to worship this Easter.

Hebrews 12:2-3 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

An older prophetic encouragement comes from Isaiah 43:18-19, when the prophet says, “Do not remember the past events; pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

You may feel you have been wandering in the wilderness, feeling alone and abandoned. God would want you to draw encouragement from the knowledge that the sufferings of this life will come to an end when the times set by the Heavenly Father are complete.

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:18-19, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (NIV).

We can have hope because through Christ’s sufferings, He has made a way for a new creation and a glorious life prepared for us in Heaven! Just as the arrival of spring flowers direct our hearts to a greater faith, may you find comfort in the ancient stories of the saints and in the hope found in the resurrection of Christ.

This Easter, consider what Christ has done for you and the hope He wants to speak to your heart. Maranatha! May Christ come soon!

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