Easter is a divine mixture of hope and remembrance, sadness and joy. It demands a “new life” expectation and response each year as we reflect on its personal meaning to each one of us as believers.
Many have written on the connection between the emotions of sadness and joy. Recently this concept was depicted in an animated children’s film I watched with my grandson. The film followed the characters of Joy and Sadness, and how they were intimately connected in the life of an 11-year-old girl.
Are joy and sadness two sides of the same coin? If so, can you really experience one without the other?
The Bible is full of this truth: God brings joy out of sadness, as with the character of Job, and the parables of the Prodigal Son and the Lost Sheep. The Easter story is the ultimate proof of the divine connection between sadness and joy. The great joy of Sunday morning would not exist without the sadness on Friday. This partnership in one’s life journey is unavoidable and truly a mystery and testimony to God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Reflecting on this connection in my own life, I remember a perfect Easter morning when my two daughters were younger, all dressed up for Sunday’s service. As we entered church, my mother's heart was full of joy as I thanked God that, “All is well! Come, Lord Jesus!”
Just a few years later, when my dad passed away at 57 years old, God impressed upon me a deeper meaning of Easter as I was saddened by my recent loss. God distinctly made Easter and His promise of hope real to me as I grieved. He told me that my true treasure—my “people,” my loved ones—are being stored up in heaven. This truth gave me such joy and peace. It also rekindled the fire in my heart for much more treasure and a big mansion in heaven to hold all my friends and family!
As I’ve grown older, my roles of wife, daughter, mother, and now grandmother have grown sweeter through times of sadness and joy. I purposely take time at Easter to block out all distractions so I can reflect on who Christ is and remember why He came.
Whether I’m retelling the gospel story with jelly beans or resurrection eggs, doing Holy Week activities, appreciating the signs of spring, reliving the Passion as told in the gospels and taking communion, singing the hymns or watching Easter dramas, I take time to reflect and remember! We need to remember the sadness, the cost, and trust the God of all joy.
Allow me to share one last joyful Easter reflection from my grandson Jackson, when he was 4 years old, as told by my daughter Amanda:
“Jackson was choosing where we’d read in the Bible last night, and he chose the story of the wall of Jericho. The application at the end of the story talks about how obeying God leads to victory and going to heaven.
Jackson started tearing up and cried big tears. I asked him what was wrong. He said he didn’t want to go to heaven. When I asked him why, he said that he didn’t want nails in his hands or to go on a cross. He said it would hurt and it was scary.
I then proceeded to tell him that because Jesus did that for us, he would not have to. It took a while to sink in, but Jackson eventually stopped crying and started to understand. He then asked Jesus into his heart so that he could go to heaven without getting nails in his hands!”
Another treasure in heaven—my joy!