In Christ, we have strength for today and a bright hope for tomorrow! His resurrection brings hope in the lives of the believers. What If Christ was not resurrected on the third day? What if the tomb was not found empty? What if the women did not see the risen Christ at dawn? What if the disciples saw the dead body of Jesus in the tomb? What if Thomas did not touch and feel the wounds in our Saviour’s hands and side? What if the 500 did not meet with the risen Lord? What if the two disciples did not walk with Jesus on their way to Emmaus?
Our faith would be futile. There would be no good news for us. No gospel would have come into manifestation. Christianity would not have emerged. This would become another religious cult of the world. Christ’s resurrection is the hope for tomorrow. His resurrection is the anchor for our belief. All these knots of uncertainties were loosened in the empty tomb. This gives us strength for today also. This gives us an assurance that we are worshiping the risen, living Saviour. This gives us confidence in approaching Him as He has ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to feel.
Jesus’ resurrection is important for several reasons; it is a witness to the immense power of God Himself; validates who Jesus claimed to be, namely, the Son of God and the Messiah; proves His sinless character and divine nature; not only the supreme validation of His deity but also validates the prophecies that foretold in the Old Testament about Jesus’ suffering and resurrection; also authenticates His own claims that He would be raised on the third day.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. Daniel 9:3
We are now in the season of Lent, a period to be observed as the ‘time of repentance’. Fasting, putting on sack clothes and rolling on ashes were the expressions of mourning which the Israelites observed in the Old Testament. By these means they went before God pleading for His mercies. Over the centuries Lenten observances have developed a much more "sacramental" value. Some Christian denominations believe that giving something up for Lent is a way to attain God’s blessing. But the Bible teaches that grace cannot be earned; grace is “the gift of righteousness”. We, the new covenant Christians received this grace and this grace is reigning in our hearts.
Having said, we are not immune to sin. Human nature and choice yield us to commit sin and we need forgiveness. When we get into His presence to seek for His repentance, we anticipate deeper intimacy with the Lord. Let this be a time of union with God’s Spirit; a time of renewal in our inner chamber; a time of spiritual healing from the Lord Almighty; a time of strengthening our relationship with God; a time of confession and consecration. Let our everyday be a day of repentance and thanksgiving and not just in the Lenten season alone.
Lent should not be a time of boasting of one’s sacrifice or trying to earn God’s favor or increasing His love. God’s love for us could not be any greater than it already is. Instead of pondering over what to give up for the Lord, let us submit ourselves asking Him to help us to get rid of things that are unpleasant to Him.
At the beginning of every year, we hear predictions from politians, economists, geologists, etc. about what we would face and how the year would be. We have heard no such forecasts for this year 2021! We learnt from this pandemic to start seeing things present around us. We scrutinize ourselves at the end of the day and say thanks to God that we have survived that day. It is like the Israelites depending on the ‘Manna’ for the day and proceeding forward with contentment. Some tried to share the Manna for the next day and some murmured about eating the same Manna every day. Of course, God’s plan was established at the end. Let us ask God to give us that contentment and dependency on Him!
As we see the pandemic stretching into 2021, a wave of fear is floating around these days! God’s word, ‘don’t be afraid’, is a recurring statement which we need to hear each day as even His close disciples had to hear when they were caught up in their fears, doubts and uncertainties. Let us be courageous people remembering His great presence always with us. Particularly when people are affected by Corona, His presence will be much closer and He does not need to keep social distancing! Yes, Covid-19 has a power to affect our outer body but it cannot touch our inner being. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Let us ask God to give us that courage in Him!
In this continuing uncertain future, let us remember Mary’s prayer from Luke 1:38, 38“I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Let this be our prayer too, committing ourselves to the will and work of God.
Let us hope for great things to come from the Lord in 2021!
Every one of us lifts our hearts with hope while starting the New Year! We learnt a lot in 2020! We learnt how to live in contentment with available resources, learnt how to spend isolated times, learnt what quietness means from our busy life style, learnt to work hard, learnt to spend time conversing with family, learnt to help one another, learnt to pray for each other, learnt to use technology and learnt to be so adaptive with the changes in lockdown. God let these learnings for our formative to face the future. When God allows suffering, He provides endurance. When God allows struggles, He strengthens us. When God allows difficulties, He delivers solution.
Learning from the encountered experiences enables us to lean on God. This pandemic has taught us that we cannot plan anything within our own human capacity and understanding. Our reliance on God has been greatly evidenced from the year 2020! I remember these lines from this hymn, ‘Yesterday's gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine, So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time’. I find it so appropriate to the present situation. In everything, we should be dependent on God, looking above and waiting for the manna for that day’s survival. Limited providence teaches us to be dependent on God.
Let us lean on Him who is our strong fort! Let us abide in His Word which is our guide! Let us trust in His unchanging presence which will be the hope for the year 2021!