Seeing Easter clearly this year

Published 10:48 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018

This April 1 will mark my 38th Easter. Each Easter is a little different, with each year bringing its own successes and challenges. Some years, everything seems perfect, while other years bring struggles. I believe that this Easter will be my greatest Easter ever, but I will admit that this comes as a surprise to me.

Pain began to creep into my body in October of last year, and I found myself facing numerous unexpected medical diagnoses that forced me to re-examine the possibilities of dreams to which I held tight. Plans, goals and dreams were paused as I learned to adjust to my newfound limitations.

Not long after my body began to cause me continued pain, other areas of my life that once brought a sense of calmness began to bring chaos and hurt. My mind swirled to grasp these unexpected and unwanted changes in life as I struggled to deal with the physical pain.

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I continued to do my best in life and ministry, but the spiritual warfare was intense. During one difficult time when the attacks of the enemy seemed especially strong, I realized that a large majority of those who I thought were on the battlefield with me were no longer there. My heart broke as I desperately clung on to my shield as the flaming arrows of the enemy rained down in a seemingly never-ending storm.

These three painful things will allow me to have the greatest Easter I’ve ever experienced, because I now see things a little more clearly. Losing so many things at once has cleared my vision and allowed me to see what is really needed.

I can see the cross that once held a perfect sacrifice. God’s wrath, which I fully deserve, was poured out on the only One who never sinned. The blood that ran down the cross should have been mine, and the screams of agony should have come from my mouth. But it was not. A Savior, displaying a love that is truly unfathomable, willingly took my place. The great chasm between me and God, which I created myself, had been bridged. I no longer have to live in fear of God’s wrath against my sin. Instead, I can be called a son of God — a member of His family.

I can see a tomb that once held a dead Man, now empty, proclaiming that God is greater than sin, death, hell and the enemy. Victory over these things has been won. It is over! It is finished! There is no power, no person, no situation and no pain that can destroy the work that was completed on the cross and a clear vision of the empty tomb is a reminder that God is victorious.

I can see a risen Savior lovingly smiling upon me, having made a way for me to return to the Father and giving me all I need for life and godliness. I happily let His nail-scarred hand take mine. As I look at His face, I have come to realize that He is all I ever really needed. It’s going to be a great Easter!

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.