As one subject to self-pity and despair, the Lord has trained me to fight. I now recognize my temptation to a familiar despair. I have a choice: to plant myself (or not) on the solid ground of His mercy and love.
I needed that discipline unexpectedly. Lent had been hard yet meaningful; I longed for Easter. On Holy Saturday, I expected to celebrate Resurrection rightly by attending the Easter Vigil, my Church’s beautiful (and long!) celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. The Vigil welcomed me into the Catholic Church nine years earlier. It seemed a fitting way to usher in the Easter season: this year, I was going to soak in the joy and power of Christ’s victory over death!
Hours before the Vigil, I became violently ill: in-between waves of nausea, I lamented: ‘No Easter celebration for you! Your Lenten sacrifice means nothing! Sick and alone on Easter, no one to care for you and no one to miss you!’
These complaints stream far too easily from our common enemy and my wounds: insignificant, destined to be forgotten and alone. In the weakness of a physical ailment, I was tempted to slump back into despair. It’s my same old song of woe, punctuated with strong notes of self-pity.
All this, on the precipice of His Resurrection! Instead of embracing Easter ‘life’, I was closer to sinking into sorrow. I felt like the disciples whose lack of sight preempted the joy of reunion with Risen Jesus.
I had a choice to make that night: dwell in my weakness or partake of His glory. How apt to exercise Resurrection authority on Easter Eve! His victory is also mine: He has empowered me to fight against familiar temptations, and fight against familiar temptations I must!
The Risen Jesus showed up. As I lay in bed, I prayerfully asked the Lord to reveal to me again the power of His resurrection. He gave me an image: me alive and yet down, a little wounded; Jesus, gloriously alive yet so intimate and personal. He offered me His hands and side to explore.
What a merciful, humble Savior! On the day devoted to His triumph, He consoled me with the new life streaming from His wounds. Risen Jesus raised me to combat the spirit of death.
This Easter, I did celebrate Christ rightly. Shaking off the grave clothes of illness and familiar wounds, I let Him minister to me. Sick in bed, I could not participate in the Easter Vigil, but I was able to worship Him as He ministered to me that night.
In His presence, the story of Easter unfolded beautifully before me. His wounds, irrefutable evidence of His unshakable love, bore mine; His scars, my victory over despair and self-pity. Let my fight be worthy of Him!
This Easter, I not only celebrated His resurrection, I participated in it. Happy wounds, indeed!