“After we have tried optimism and virtue and piety and denial and just trying harder and none of it has worked, then what is left is hope. And that kind of hope, is an Easter hope. Because it’s the kind of hope that is still standing after being dredged through Good Friday.”
My friend Becky was in the fourth grade when her father lost his job. He’d tried to take a stand against known corruption in the company and been fired by his boss instead. Although we were just kids at the time, Becky says she was old enough to know her father was having trouble at work.
During a family dinner, one of the older kids mentioned that dad had been fired. Becky dropped her fork to her plate and turned to her father. “What’s going to happen now?”
Her father glanced around the table at his worried children’s faces and quietly said, “What’s going to happen now is what will always happen—we’ll trust God and He will provide for us.”
It can be jarring when the unexpected happens. You lose your job. Your child runs away from home. Your spouse walks out. A global pandemic shuts down the whole world. Your parent suddenly dies. You receive an unwanted diagnosis.
Now, you’re left feeling like Becky - scared and alone.
Another thing that can cause us to feel scared and all alone is living with a mental illness. Many people don’t get a firm diagnosis on their first visit, or if they do, the doctors find it impossible to predict how that illness may change in the coming weeks, months, or years.
It’s easy to sit up late at night, worrying about your health:
Will you be able to keep working?
Will anxiety keep you from caring for your toddler?
Will depression prevent you from driving to the grocery store?
Does PTSD mean you’ll be unable to attend that family reunion?
There’s a quote from Corrie Ten Boom that comforts me in these moments. She says, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to the known God.”
Ten Boom faced unimaginable loss during the holocaust and still came out on the other side with a beautiful story of redemption. She didn’t let the unknowns keep her from seeking (or trusting) God.
But what about the days when you have no faith in God at all?
Oh, wait. Just me?
Come on, friend. Let’s be real. I have plenty of days when I’m not sure I believe any of this.
Yea, even on Easter Sunday.
Because I understand a bit of the journey from death to life, the Easter story makes more sense to me now than it ever did before. (Read more of my story here.)
For me, resurrection feels like moving from fear to love. Easter is less about the pyrotechnics of the modern church service, and more about the death of certainty and the resurrection of hope-filled possibility.
I have had countless questions and been filled with uncertainty for years. The difference is that I no longer view that experience as pure evil.
I used to think my fears and doubts and questions would prevent God from drawing near to me. I flipped the scripture on its head, believing that if I wasn’t perfect (physically, mentally, and emotionally) plus free from fear and struggle, Perfect Love would cast me out: unclean, unfit, insufficient.
But the opposite is true: Perfect Love casts fear out.
A fuller understanding of this scripture, then, is that God embraces the whole person - fears and doubts and all. The resurrection of my faith, much like the resurrection of Jesus, is an invitation into wholeness.
But what do you do on the days when you’re overwhelmed with fear and doubt?
Perhaps try what I do: let your feet do the praying.
You can put your hope into action by calling a trusted friend, taking your meds, going to therapy, getting outside and soaking up some sunshine, watching children play, snuggling with a pet, relaxing your jaw, and taking some deep breaths...the options really are endless.
Easter’s biggest reminder is this: The fear stuff will come and go. But Love remains.
God, give us strength when the unexpected happens. When it feels like we’re falling apart, hold us together with Your strength and grace.
Holding you in the Light,
P.S. During those times when my faith is next to nothing, it helps to be surrounded by safe, gentle people who will nudge me toward the truth: that God loves me without condition. Could you use a community like that?
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