Many things can bring you to the point of despair. Learning that your spouse has cheated on you; finding out about the secret past of a partner that was kept secret even from you; the sudden death of a family member; the loss of your home - all of these events and many more can bring you to the point of despair. Despair is a natural reaction but is one that tends to take away any sense of hope that we ave.
The context of Easter is very much the same. Easter is the end of the Lenten journey many have been on. Christians remember that Jesus' followers saw him betrayed by one of their own, falsely condemned and killed. They had devoted their lives to following him. Now, it was over and they feared for their lives. In the midst of this, they found hope and learned of his resurrection. What can we learn from their example when we too face a situation where we need to maintain hope?
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- Those who are active are the ones that can learn the good news.-- It is important to not simply stay at home but rather we need to get out to do what we need to do.
- Accept signs of hope even if it comes in a way that is not how you would expect it. -- Hope can come from a variety of sources - in the Easter account hope came from the words of one that seemed like a gardener and the women brought the news to the disciples.
- Each of us have different needs in order to have hope and believe. -- You need to know what you need to believe in the hope that is there for you. Thomas needed to see and feel for himself, while others held out hope because of what others had witnessed.
- Don't dwell on telling of your despair. -- Those on the road to Emmaus almost missed the good news as they were so intent on telling of the bad things that had happened. Dwelling on what took place connects you more to your despair and make you less likely to see the hope.
- Be ready to be given new directions. -- The path of hope often requires that we keep our options open and do not prejudge the directions we will be led on as we move beyond our despair. As we lay claim to hope, we are able to embark on new directions in which hope may be found.
Even as you despair, hope is possible. Take the lessons of Easter and lay claim to that hope in your own situation. Follow these strategies not only at Easter but throughout the year. It is possible that as you do this that you will find hope as they help you find wholeness and peace.