The Resurrection Restores Shattered Hopes

 

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“But God released Him from the horrors of death and raised Him back to life, for death could not keep Him in its grip.” Acts 2:24

Their hearts heave with unshed tears and their heads hang with grief, but their feet trudge on with purpose. Their Master is dead. Their hopes and joys are shattered and buried with Him. But they will still remember the love this Man gave to them.

These women of courage head for the tomb. Their spices and their tears will mingle together to anoint the body, to slow down the decay, of their precious Jesus, the one they thought would save them. But now what? A dead one can’t deliver them from their enemies.

“Who will roll away the stone from the tomb?” they cry. The stone, like their despair, is far too heavy for these women to move. And besides, how will they ever get past the guards? Impossibilities loom ahead of them, but they can’t stop. The love of Jesus draws them on like bees to honey. Their hearts still cry out to Him in desperation. But He is dead.

“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.” (Mark 16:4)

But when they look up… What?! The stone is already rolled away. And no guards. They enter the tomb and see a young man dressed in a sweeping robe as white as snow. Terror and confusion attack their already troubled hearts as they tremble at the sight of this angel whose appearance is like lightning.

“Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples…” (Matthew 28:5-7)

Their eyes round with wonder, they remember the words Jesus had spoken – that He would be crucified but would rise again the third day. Afraid yet filled with joy, they hurry to tell the disciples the best news anyone could ever tell. Jesus is alive!

Do you ever feel like you’re living as if Jesus were still dead? Like your hopes and joys are still buried in that tomb? Your heart so downcast that you cannot even see the stone is already rolled away?

HE IS RISEN! He was crucified but He is glorified. For you and for me. Our hopes and joys are not in that tomb but alive in Him. He conquered death and hell and left our sins in the tomb. Because He lives, sin’s power is broken. He triumphed over all enemies. Now nothing can take away His love from us.

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Precious Jesus,
Like these women
Your love draws us.
We cannot live without You.

Sometimes our hearts are so heavy;
We cannot feel You really are alive.
Please shed the blinding gloom from our eyes
That we may truly see
You have already removed the stone
And You truly are alive
Yesterday, today, and forever.

Death could not hold You.
Hell could not keep you.
The sins of this whole world
Could not destroy You.

O please, Lord,
Dispel the darkness in our hearts
With Your everlasting light.
Shatter the despair we are buried in
And fill us with the joy
You gave those women at the tomb.
Joy so full and free
That it spills out to others.

When depression saps the life from us,
Fill us with Your life.
May our hearts leap with joy
Because You are alive
And here with us
Always and forever.
No matter what we go through
You hold our hand
Even when it’s dark
Even when we can’t feel You.
You are alive
Beside us
Within us.

 

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A huge Easter flash mob of members from Second Baptist Church in Houston “Danced Their Shoes Off” for Jesus. Each of them left behind a new pair of shoes for those in need. Let’s join them and dance so hard the shackles of despair must break from our hearts. Yes! Jesus IS alive! 

“He’s alive
He’s alive inside us
We will rise up!”

“Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave

Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?
Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
The glory of God has defeated the night!”

Matt Maher

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Joining Up With


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A Soft Gentle Voice
Faith Barista’s Writing Prompt:
Easter

 

The Savior Was Broken to Heal Broken Hearts

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A Broken Heart Cries

Help me, Jesus,
I still feel so broken.
You were broken so I can be healed,
So why can’t I “feel” that?
Why am I so depressed?
Why am I so hard on myself?
Why do I condemn myself
When You don’t condemn me?
Why do I demand so much of myself
When You have already paid the full price?
Why can’t I live life
Fully and joyfully in You?
I believe in Your all-sufficient grace,
Powerful to push through my resistance,
Powerful to break down my false foundations,
Powerful to crash open the walls
Around my distrusting heart.
O precious Savior,
I believe You gave Yourself
To be broken
To heal our brokenness.
I don’t doubt Your power to heal,
But will You heal me, Lord?
Lord, I believe,
Help my unbelief.

” He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds
[curing their pains and their sorrows].”
Psalm 147:3 AMP

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The Savior Whispers

My precious child,
How long will you condemn yourself?
I was broken for you
To take away condemnation.
I love you so much
I died for you.
Yes, for you, too.
Because I was broken,
There is healing
For broken ones.
Because I was broken,
The full price is already paid.
You don’t have to keep paying
By beating up yourself.
I desire repentance
Not self-loathing.
You are Mine,
My beloved child,
Chosen, redeemed, cherished.
It saddens Me
When you don’t trust
My sacrifice to be enough,
My love to be full and free.
So many times in your life
I have picked you up
Bruised and bleeding
And given you courage
To walk again.
Will you not trust Me,
My child?
Take My hand, My child,
And let Me show you
The wonders of My love
My all-sufficient grace
My all-encompassing love
My all-powerful healing.
Focus not on whether
Your faith is lacking.
It’s not faith that saves you.
Focus on Me,
The object of Your faith,
Your only Savior.
I Am the Way
The Truth
The Life.
I will break down
Your false foundations,
Your walls,
Your resistance.
I will break down your will
To mold you to My will.
The journey will not be easy,
But I will be with you always
As you learn
Step by step
To trust
In Me alone.

Am I Worth Dying For?

Are you broken, bruised, and bleeding?
There is a Savior who was broken for you.
Because of His sacrifice, You can be healed.
The road may be rough,
But He is beside you always,
Because you are precious in His sight.

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Joining Faith Barista’s Writing Prompt:
Broken

Trusting God Loves Cracked Pots and He Will Heal In His Time and Way

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I was trying to take a risk in spite of my fear – go to church. We hadn’t been going for a while again, because my sensitive airways reject cold air. But it was going to be warmer, so on Saturday night I thought I could try it again. But the cold isn’t the only thing keeping me away.

When I woke up on Sunday, fear consumed me. I kept pleading with God, “O God, help me, please. I am so afraid. Please be with me.”

I tried to read from His promises that He will always be with me. And He whispered, “Stay with Me. Let Me stay with you.

I thought I was all set. What time I am afraid, I will trust in YOU, O God.

But I was helpless with what my mind and body were doing. My identity was splitting again. It’s hard to explain, but I guess they call it disassociating. I disconnect from my thoughts, feelings, and who I really am. It’s so hard to describe what it feels like. Kind of like I’m two people… My true identity gets shoved into the garbage disposal. A different person takes over, one who listlessly rides along in life like a puppet on strings, one with emotions shut off so I won’t feel pain. It’s how I coped at the time of abuse, and sometimes it comes back when memories get triggered.

I kept crying to God. My heart was ready to place my trust in Him. I left the bedroom with brave intentions. My heart was going to plow forward and conquer this fear, because God is with me. Yet I became so confused, because my mind and body weren’t cooperating. I hate that feeling of when my mind and body disconnect. Sometimes I can process it, reason with myself, and come back to “earth,” but sometimes it doesn’t help until I remove myself from the situation and feel “safe” again.

I was out of the zone of reality, the here and now. Without thinking, I would get up with my cup of tea in my hands, pace, then sit in a different spot, and look out the window or try to converse.

My ever-protective, observant husband said, “You look uncomfortable. You’re troubled. Are you afraid someone is going to hurt you again?”

“I don’t knooow…”

I got my coat on and was ready to go out the door, and he stopped me. “You’re trembling.”

“No, I’m not… HOW can you see that?” I thought my trembling was only on the inside.

“Yes, you are. Even your jaw is quivering. I am not going, because you are NOT ready.”

I broke down and sobbed, “But how will I ever get past my fears if I don’t face them? Why can’t I stop being afraid? Do I have no faith?”

After more tears and hugs, I had to admit my husband was right. I was going more because I thought I was keeping him away from it (since he won’t go without me). And for approval from Christians who believe going to church is the right thing to do… If I’m honest with myself, the times I do go are more out of obligation than desire or need. And when I do have the courage to go, the gloom of depression sinks me down, often during the entire week or longer.

For many, going to church is not a problem, because they grew up in a nurturing church with a supportive community. Not me. “Church” is bad memories of spiritual, emotional, mental and sexual abuse.

When I shared the truth of my story many years later with friends, they deserted me.  They were willing to believe I was guilty of leading a “poor man of God” astray, but they were not willing to accept the truth – that I was victimized and deeply wounded.

We were hurt again at a couple of other churches since then, so we became even more guarded. I also still hear stories of other hurting souls who are not believed or supported in some churches. Even where perpetrators are more supported and prayed for than the victims are.

Anyway, I am trying to make sense of what happens to me, and I still don’t know. Questions roar and tumble in my mind: Should I just forget about trying to go to church anymore? Should I stop pushing myself? When will all these memory triggers stop? Why do they seem to be getting worse the older I get? Where is my faith?

A few months ago, in a non-denominational Bible study I attend when I am able to, there was a discussion about attending a church. Some concluded that faithful church attendance is not a requirement for salvation, but not going means we are missing out on the blessings of community. My heart cringed and curled up into a fetal position, ashamed and inadequate. I didn’t dare to tell even this safe, nonjudgmental community of beautiful women that I don’t go to church. I reasoned: If I tell them, they won’t understand anyway, they will look differently at me, they won’t like me anymore, they will “preach” at me and hurt me with words, etc.

This is also why I have been struggling whether or not to openly tell you on this blog post. In the corner of my mind, I keep seeing former friends who rejected me shake their heads at me and look at me like I’m a lost cause. But I want to be “real” here, and hopefully I will learn to share it someday at Bible study as well, no matter what the reaction.

As I write this, God is helping me to process my confusion. I beat myself up with – If you really trusted God, you could do this… Satan scoffs me with “Where is your God and His power?” That old legalism still has a condemning “do this or else” hold on me, but I must learn the Spirit gives life, not condemnation and death. It’s not about how many times I go to church. It’s about my relationship with Jesus. God is not confined to four walls. I can worship Him anywhere. The “church” is not a building but the indwelling of Jesus in the hearts of His people all over this world.

Yesterday I read how the disciples were in a room with the doors locked out of fear. Did Jesus walk away because the doors were locked, because they were afraid? No, nothing stops Him from loving His own unconditionally. He entered in and spoke peace to their trembling hearts. The doors were still locked… I still struggle with fear because of past trauma, but Jesus still will never turn His back on me. Even when fear locks the door to my heart, even though my faith is weak, Jesus still chooses to enter and dwell in my heart.

What happened on Sunday is turning out to be a blessing. A lesson in trust… Trusting in God doesn’t always mean taking a risk out of my comfort zone. Trust can mean to wait patiently and allow time for God’s complete healing.

To trust that Jesus will heal me in His time and His way.

To trust Him even though my mind and body react to memory triggers that bind me and limit me.

To trust that maybe He has more use for me in my woundedness than in my being of strong faith.

“If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed.”
(Habakkuk 2:3 NLT)

I am not perfect, but He loves me anyway. I am not going to keep forcing myself to go to church. I have to let it go for now. I have to quit heaping more guilt on myself for not going, no matter what I hear people say. I have to shake loose from those legalistic shackles and rest in the life and liberty of Jesus. I will not find peace in a building. I will only find peace in Jesus. Jesus understands and doesn’t condemn me for it, so why should I? Instead I will continue to worship Him wherever I am and to seek a closer and more intimate relationship with my Lord and my Redeemer.

I will try to be more gentle on myself and more patient with the healing process. Each day, hour, moment, I will try to lay this cross at the feet of Jesus. Layer by layer, God will heal me, if not here, in the hereafter. Someday all the shackles of fear and shame will disintegrate in the power of God’s saving and healing grace. Meanwhile, I want to accept my brokenness as beautiful in His sight. He can still use this battered, cracked pot.

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Are you sometimes impatient with the healing process? Do you beat yourself up because you can’t always do what you think you should be able to if you trusted God enough? Or maybe people condemn you for not being able to move forward more quickly? Be more gentle with yourself. No matter what, Jesus understands. He never condemns. He hurts when we hurt. We don’t have to be completely healed to be used by Him. Sometimes He may have more use for us in our woundedness. God sees our cracks as beautiful!

The Cracked Pot from Neepa Sharma

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Joining Faith Barista’s Writing Prompt:
Your Cross