Perseverance is part of new life

Published 1:33 pm Thursday, April 21, 2022

Christians don’t have a religious monopoly on the idea of ‘new life.’ Each tradition uses different words and images to capture the idea that what we experience now doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Even the imagery of an Easter bunny shares in the idea of new life because bunnies, well, you know…they can be very busy creating new life.

The universality of these stories, these concepts…it’s almost as if humanity tells these stories because we need the hope they offer. We need to believe that the future is not fated for tragedy. We need to believe that the worst thing we’ve faced is indeed the worst, so that we can face the future with less fear and apprehension. This doesn’t guarantee a better future, but rather we don’t walk into the future already overcome with despair.

Hope sometimes feels like self-deception. To me, at least. For when life seems unbearably difficult, hoping for something easier, something more peaceful, feels like I’m pretending I’m going to get something that doesn’t actually exist.

That fear is a part of the Christian story, as the disciples who saw Jesus die had no hope that anything was going to come of their burgeoning religious movement. Even when they found an empty tomb, they ran away. They couldn’t believe Jesus had come back to life.  They could only imagine the worst, that his body was stolen. They were conditioned to expect the worst. They had been beaten up by the Roman Empire who executed their Lord as and enemy of the state. They were lost in a maze of pain with only wrong turns in sight.

I don’t know what I would have done in their position, but I can imagine I’d be in worse shape than they were. The Bible says the disciples were praying together in room, afraid as they were, when they finally experienced the risen Jesus.

Perhaps that is the true lesson of Easter. Had the disciples allowed their fear to keep them from praying together, maybe they would have missed their visit from the risen Jesus. Maybe they would have missed out on seeing how beautiful the future could be if they had simply returned to fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

Maybe the true lesson of Easter is that perseverance is part of this new life. It doesn’t come suddenly, immediately rushing over us like white-capped waves. Their story is a metaphor for ours. The hope we need, the glimpses of new life we requirewe don’t get them by throwing in the towel on life.

Sometimes the perseverance is hard, so hard to hold on when it feels like the floor is cracking beneath you. If that is the case for you, call a friend or someone you can trust. Email me if you want to share your burdens with someone who legally can’t tell anybody else. Whatever you do, if you are waiting for new life to show up…keep waiting. Don’t give up. You don’t have to hide in that upper room of fear alone.

Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.