was April 3, the birthday of my first son. His name is James. He was born right before 2:00 a.m. that Easter Sunday morning.
By the time the actual sun dawned that Easter morning, I was an adoring mom holding her firstborn son. He was a whopping 9 lbs, 21 inches long, with a head full of dark hair. I remember thinking that even though Easter Sunday was always a different date every year, that I would never think of Easter Sunday the same way again.
The next two years of my son's life were fraught with chronic illness, a devastating diagnosis of genetic disease, long-term hospitalizations, and critical medical needs. Throughout his life, I depended on the thought that because James was born on Easter, the day God raised His Son from the dead, that certainly God would also keep and protect my son from death. My theology, understanding of God, was small and immature. I clung to a calendar symbol instead of the character and sovereignty of God.
James died in October 1996 at the age of 2 1/2 years old. I remember thinking then that I would never celebrate Easter again because it would always remind me of God's failure to me. My theology, relationship with God, was weak and crippled. I clung to my circumstances instead of the character and sovereignty of God.
I did not celebrate Easter for 3 years. To me the day, no matter the date, reminded me of my son whom I could no longer hold. The day reminded me of how I had wanted events to turn out and how radically different they were. The day held no hope for me, I thought. So I hid myself away from family and friends, refusing to acknowledge the day or its meaning. I was dead in my own tomb of sorrow and grief.
But something amazing happened because even though I rejected God, He did not once reject me. Though I behaved as the jeering criminal on the cross yelling, "If You are really God, why didn't you save my son?" He treated me as the one sheep who was gone astray. The Savior Jesus Christ who came to die for a wretch like me, forgave my sin of anger and rebellion. The Risen Lord who conquered death and hell, changed my heart to understand victory over eternal death rests only in Him. The Messiah King who is enthroned at God's right hand, taught me of Himself: His character is trustworthy in all things and His Sovereignty is displayed in all circumstances. I cling to Him alone.
I now celebrate Easter, but not with eggs or rabbits and not with baskets or chocolate. And although I still connect Easter Sunday, no matter the date, as the day I first held my firstborn son, the importance of the Lord's Resurrection is that the day means His Sovereign promise is expressed in all that has been given and secured eternally by His Firstborn Son. Jesus Christ has granted to His elect certain hope by His work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.
I celebrate a bloody cross that tells of His atonement and costly sacrifice. I celebrate a dark night of weeping and sorrow that tells of the deeps of death. I celebrate an empty tomb that tells of His power and love.
I celebrate a Risen Lord!
"But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,' then he adds, 'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.' Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:12-23