Easter comes early this year, probably by God's divine design. What a year we have endured since last March. Some lost loved ones. Some caught the virus and fortunately recovered, but still reporting some lingering effects such as inability to smell and a foggy mind. Many experienced isolation and loneliness. Many haven't seen a family or friend in person, haven't traveled anywhere, haven't been to a restaurant, a concert, or a sports event since last March's lockdown.
More than one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, people are physically exhausted and mentally and emotionally drained. We are hungry for some signs of hope, some physical re-engagement with our fellow human beings, some emotional relief, or, for Christians, a spiritual renewal. Easter can't come soon enough.
Regardless of our individual experiences, the pandemic probably has forced all of us to confront our mortality. We humans have a bizarre attitude toward death. Logically we understand that death is a final equalizer. It is going to happen to all of us. Yet, few of us are truly prepared for it or even want to acknowledge its existence. The certainty of death but the uncertainty of when and how it will happen has created fear and anxiety.
In normal circumstances, we can fill our day with activities and our minds with a long "to-do" list, so we don't have to think about death. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, governments worldwide took the most drastic measure by imposed lockdowns. Suddenly, most of us had nowhere to go but had to stay at home, and had nothing to do but spending "quality time" with our immediate family or ourselves for almost a year.
Our days were no longer filled with activities, and our minds ran out of a "to-do" list. The fear of dying from an invisible virus permeated the air. With a seeming abundance of time at hand so unexpectedly, we were compelled to ponder life's eternal questions: What is the meaning of life? What is death?
Fortunately, I didn't have to ponder these questions about life and death because my faith already gives me answers. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and he rose from the dead. He showed us that we should have no fear of death. Jesus is "the way, the truth, the life" (John 14:6). Through Jesus and by having faith in him, and only him, we are saved, and we can also defeat death. We Christians are truly blessed. We don't feel weak and despair because Jesus Christ's resurrection "turned the inevitability of death into the invincibility of life." Therefore, Easter is a time of hope, joy, and a celebration of life because God defeated death forever.
As I was writing this essay, a news alert popped up on my phone. It read that France would enter a third national lockdown. It is easy to wonder if this pandemic will ever end.
President Abraham Lincoln told a story in one of his speeches in 1859: “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this too shall pass.’ How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”
President Lincoln was right. "And this too shall pass" is a timeless advice and probably particularly applicable now. Do not be despaired about the pandemic. It won't last forever because it too shall pass.
When we resume our "normal" life again, don't give up hope when we hit the lowest of the low in our lives. Take comfort in knowing that all the lows shall pass. By the same token, when we are at the peak of our success, enjoy it and embrace it, but don't be arrogant because it too shall pass. Only God and his love for us are here to stay and are always the same from past, present to eternity.
Knowing our earthly life shall pass too doesn't mean we ought to sit around, and do nothing but wait for Jesus' second coming. An ancient saying reminds us: "Our life is God's gift to us--and what we do with it is our gift to God!" Our best gift to God is to let God’s teaching guide our day-to-day living, and make the most out of this life.
After telling the "this too shall pass" story, President Lincoln ended his speech with this encouragement: "Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away."
Let this Easter become a new beginning for all of us. Let the darkness and fear of the pandemic and even death pass. Let us rejoice in Jesus' resurrection and be grateful for our own second chance to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, as God intended.