He is risen!!! Jesus, Just as he said he would, rose up from the dead to proclaim our redemption.
I have been really struggling with what to say about Easter. It should be simple, really. This, (yesterday), is what we’ve been building up to all along. It’s the greatest day in our redemption story and I can’t seem to just get past the proclamation, He is risen!
I can’t get past it, because there’s not anything better I could say. The world, death, and Satan himself thought they had won, but instead were left with an empty tomb. Upon first glance, that empty tomb frightened people. They couldn’t understand what had happened… surely someone moved his body? Seeing the stone rolled away and no Jesus to be found, likely induced a range of emotions of those looking on. I imagine some were anxious, angry, distraught, confused, and select few may have remembered Jesus’s words and caught a sliver of hope.
...we are going up to Jerusalem, and the son of man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise. Mark 10: 33-34
It’s easy to look on now for those that believe and say, “How could they not have known?!” But I ask you to truly consider what would you have done if you were there? If you watched your messiah die in front of you, would you believe that he would defeat death if he chose to succumb to it in the first place?
Yesterday, our pastor spoke of the unfortunate title Jesus’s disciple Thomas coined when he heard about Jesus’s supposed resurrection. Even those outside of the church have likely heard the term, ‘doubting Thomas’. Now I’ve always agreed he had a bad rap because I’ve stood by what I’ve said above, which was, “well wouldn’t you doubt after experiencing all of that?” The response is often, “But Jesus foretold his resurrection.” To that I would ask, “How many things has God told you, that you so often forget? In your anxiety, do you remember who’s in control? In your fear, do you remember God has told you all things are used for his good and glory? In your weakness, do you forget who gives you your strength?”
My response is not incorrect, but my pastor made an interesting observation. What if Thomas wasn’t doubting per se because of his lack of faith, rather he just couldn’t carry the grief after what he had been through. He couldn’t allow himself to just believe because he couldn’t walk through the hurt again if it weren’t true. He wanted more than anything to believe what he was hearing was indeed true, but he needed to see Jesus himself, not take the word of man.
What I tend to struggle with the most is how others see God, especially how they see God through me. I do know that I have an impact on others, we all do in our own ways, but there is an extra layer of responsibility for those who choose to intentionally go out and spread the gospel. When events transpire in ways we don’t expect, I fear others will discredit God. What makes this extra difficult is that, just like the people in the bible and especially those who lived alongside Jesus, the focus tends to fall on the person rather than God’s glory. We focus on a snippet of a person and make a snap judgement either about the person or God. This can cause a person to hold onto God tighter or walk away from him. That is an overwhelming responsibility for a single person to carry and what I have to repeat to myself is that I am not carrying it… God is.
This past week, our two year lawsuit came to an end. I won’t go into real details, because frankly they don’t matter. For just a bit of backstory, however, I was the enforcer at my workplace. It was an incredibly toxic environment and I was essentially attacked daily by anyone outside my team all day, every day.
My job was to be the bad guy and I was pretty good at it. My general mood was agitated or angry. I was constantly primed for a fight, and that’s how I was trained to be. My boss and I played the roles of good cop/bad cop and she lovingly referred to me as “the hammer”, a nickname actually given to me at the company prior to that one.
About a year or so before the lawsuit happened, I was slowly coming back to God. There was a lot of stumbling, and a few times God tapped others on the shoulder to pull me out of the ravine I was trapped in and set me back on course. Something shifted and I became restless at work. I started to not be ok with not only how I was received by others, but by the way I was expected to interact with them.
Have you ever spend years in a place where 98% of the people openly hate you? I have, and I used to use it as a badge of honor until something changed. I started to soften around the edges. It was a rough road, because I viewed softness as weakness and had to allow myself to begin shedding that exterior.
On March 20, 2020, at the onset of a worldwide pandemic, I stood up for what was right. As a result I found myself unemployed alongside 184,000 other unemployed individuals in the state of Michigan alone. What followed was an extremely difficult, very long, two year battle about my character. This battle didn’t only exist in a legal sense.
I have spent a lot of time with God, atoning for who I was during my rebellion. God has taught me so much and been so incredibly faithful through these last two years, I can’t help but see God’s hand in everything. God has given us exactly what we need and he very frequently didn’t answer prayer the way we requested, but he answered. My biggest fear was that we would lose the case at the end. That the lies on the other side would overshadow the truth. That everything I have been proclaiming about God’s greatness and glory would be overshadowed by a seemingly unanswered prayer.
Through this whole thing I’ve told my daughter many times, the bad guys sometimes win but fear should never stop you from fighting the good fight. Despite what happens right now, God wins. God always wins, every time.
Last week we found out we won… technically. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone else who says we won outside of myself though. When everything is said and done we’ll have suffered a loss regardless of the award on our end. Without a large reward is it worth it? I guess that depends on your definition of reward.
God doesn’t ask us to do something because of what we’ll get out of it. He asks us to have faith and follow him. In fact he tells us that it’ll often be really hard. That we’ll be persecuted, just as he has been.
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were off the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. John 15: 18-20
I am not afraid of the difficulties because I know who’s in control. God opens the doors he needs you to walk through and he does not always tell us what is on the other side. I stand firm in the win. The truth was revealed not only through the case, but in me as a witness to God’s glory. His truth is so clear to me after these last few years and the timing of each ‘setback’ has been perfect. God has provided and I’m confident he’ll not only continue to do so, but his hand will be so visible not one will mistake who’s moving around them.
I have endured a lifetime of abuse. The last two years, I was chewed up and spit out, told I was worth nothing. The years prior to that, I was hated by most I was around, and they made sure I knew it. My relationship with my parents has been rocky at best and I have been easily discarded when I stand up for myself rather than toe the line at what is socially acceptable and comfortable for others. And I was literally and physically abused growing up for many, many years by a family member as a child.
I have been groomed to follow others leads, and rebuked when I stand up and shout, “No! This isn’t right! It’s not ok.” Gradually, my softness molded over into a hard, impenetrable shell. I became a weapon in my career by using my stony exterior to my advantage.
It wasn’t until God began breaking me apart that I could stand tall. I had to fall to my knees first in order to stand strong against all the abuse. This time I didn’t fight so much as I endured. God did the fighting for me. I allowed all of it to wash over me. I had to sit through hours and years of lies, preparing and praying for God to illuminate the truth, and He did.
I know most won’t understand why I rejoice in the piece of paper which states “…claimant Monette prevails on this claim.” when we are still at a technical loss after all is paid and wrapped up. And I understand that I may just be viewed as another John the Baptist, crazy man in the wild, screaming about this guy Jesus! But to those who know God and hear his voice, to those who are tuned in, they will know God doesn’t fail. He doesn’t make mistakes. He is a promise keeper.
They may just need time to verify its God, because they are too hurt to believe right now. Like Thomas, they just need to feel Him.
It is not my job to convince anyone; God does that. I am just witness to his magnificent glory. The fact that I can stand tall, after all I’ve been through in my life alone, and proclaim the goodness of God is proof God is who he says he is.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will sent to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you will also bear witness about me, because you have been with me from the beginning. John 15: 26-27
I get the privilege of bearing witness because Jesus not only went to the cross, he defeated death just as he said would. Without the resurrection, the rest is just a story. He proved his name so we could not only walk alongside him, but to bring others with us on the journey.
I know God revealed my truth so his could be glorified. I have been abused, ridiculed, and torn to pieces, only to rise up when no one thought I could. I now stand in the truth that despite the lies of the enemy, I am who I say I am. In my times of grief and doubt, like Thomas, I grasped Jesus’s pierced hands, and clung to his wounded side.
Through this incredibly difficult Easter season, He has reminded me what He has done for me so that I can run to his arms when I am finally called home. The sweetest words I could ever hope to hear, “My good and faithful servant, daughter to the king, Aimee. Welcome home. You did good kid.”
So friends, don’t let the world’s narrative overshadow his truth.
He is risen indeed!