We are preparing for Easter, which means I am fighting back the urge to buy my kids more stuff they really don’t need to fill a basket. Don’t get me wrong, they will have a few surprises when they wake up, and we will do an egg hunt and such. I am not a total curmudgeon.
Yet, I feel myself torn between images of dead Syrian children being carried in the arms of battered and beyond-bereaved parents and bunnies and baskets and our children in their Easter best.
I want my children to have giggle-filled, carefree days. I want ease and comfort for them, which is a natural desire for our children. Yet I also know that a life of ease can quickly become a disease.
This year, instead of hiding candy, we are going to hide plastic eggs filled with puzzle pieces of a world map. When we gather our eggs, we are going to put the puzzle together and spend some time praying for Syria and Egypt specifically. The money we might have spent on cute new clothes, I have donated to Preemptive Love Coalition, as a paltry attempt to assuage the waves of helplessness that come over me when I think of that aching nation and all its displaced people and destroyed lives.
It is so hard to strike a balance between festive joy excitement and honest engagement in the world in a way that our children can handle. I don’t want my melancholy to efface our Easter joy, but I also want to remember and recognize that Resurrection Life is a much deeper thing than a basket of candy.
I remember reading Frederick Beuchner saying that on the day when his first book was published, he was elated. As he walked smiling out of the publishers office, he ran into a college friend who had come upon hard times. He realized then that as long as someone else was suffering, it was impossible to be fully engrossed in our own joy.
I long for my own life and the lives of these boys of ours to exude true compassion, to be those who suffer alongside. I also know that God gives us each our own portion and does not want us to live under blankets of guilt for the good things that He allows and sends our way. How do we live as those who graciously receive plenty without forgetting those who live in scarcity? How can we become and raise people awake to the pain of the world without being paralyzed by it?
Mother Theresa helps me. She was quick to champion the little things done in great love. She saw the next person in front of her as Jesus. Rather than throwing up her hands in defeat at the problem of poverty, she fed the next person and befriended the next lonely person.
Awareness helps. Knowing and remembering the suffering all around us, whether they be strangers in Syria or neighbors in need of a friend, keeps us from being consumed by the disease of ease.
A long hope helps. We must live as those who can enjoy the good gifts God has placed in our lives without forgetting that, first and foremost, we are a people who are journeying to our true home. The sweet meal at a restuarant, the happy holiday egg hunt in the backyard, the small basket of gifts, these are not the end. When they become such, we can be certain we have been infected with the disease of ease.
They are gifts: gifts meant to be taken, broken and shared.
These are helps, but my only hope in living in this tension is to be hidden in Christ. He alone was perfectly balanced because He alone was perfectly in tune with the Father and perfectly obedient to His will. As I walk with Him, spend time in His Word, linger long in His presence and learn from His people, He will make me more like Him. I will increasingly see what He sees, feels what He feels, hurt for what hurts Him until the day when, in a moment, I shall see Him face to face.
Come, Lord Jesus, save us from the disease of ease. Make us more like you who chose a life of discomfort that more might be brought into the eternal ease of life with the Father. Raise up from us a generation of children who have their eyes fixed on the New Heavens and New Earth. We are inadequate, but you will give us all we need to do such.
*Beautiful petal art by the beautiful Setara.