Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry
Two days ago, I bought each of my very grownup sons a chocolate rabbit and a box of peeps. Then I proceeded to look at those treats with coveting eyes.
Eyeing the chocolate overcame the message of Easter in my thoughts. This is not a food addict’s tale; it is an American saga going on in most homes this weekend. Easter baskets for the children, Easter egg hunts, Easter feasts, chocolate, jelly beans, and peanut butter eggs become mini-gods for a few weeks.
Mini-gods? Many have just finished Lent, the purpose of which is to challenge sin and character flaws in oneself, to repent, and work closely with God to change. Instead, people give up chocolate or pork, only to feast on ham dinners and candy on Easter Sunday. There is no real worship of the One True God expressing itself in surrender.
We trivialize the powerful message of the cross of Christ. When I worked with children in the church, I used to teach that spring is a sign of new life (like what Jesus gives us when we follow him); empty eggs represent resurrection (because Jesus died, was buried, and left the tomb empty when he came out alive). Bunnies, baskets, and egg hunts all had their spiritual meaning. So what was wrong with that?
This is what Saint Paul said about it in 1 Corinthians 1:17 (MSG) “God didn’t send me out to collect a following for myself, but to preach the Message of what he has done, collecting a following for him. And he didn’t send me to do it with a lot of fancy rhetoric of my own, lest the powerful action at the center – Christ on the Cross – be trivialized into mere words.” (Bold accent is mine).
Mere words. Mere candy. Mere meaningless sacrifices. It all falls far short of the glory of God.
So what about the cross? Almighty God, Sovereign of the Universe, created everything out of nothing. His power is beyond compare. He is absolutely holy – that is, without fault or blame.
He made each of us because he loves us, and longs for close friendship with us. We, however, keep turning to other gods like pride, money, sex, and more. Out of sheer love for you and me, he sent his only birth-son Jesus to take the punishment God knew we could not bear.
That is the meaning of the cross. Jesus, equally God and living in heaven, chose to give it all up and come here as a vulnerable baby to be among us. He was sinless (that is a very important point!), and then gave himself up to die via crucifixion. This is what we are grateful for on what we call Good Friday.
He did not stay dead! He was buried, and three days later rose back to life! That is our celebration on Easter. If Jesus did not resurrect, then our faith is in vain. If God is dead, what hope do we have?
He is alive, returned to heaven, and according to Jesus’ promise is preparing a place for us there. Because he ‘paid the price’ already, we have the utmost privilege of coming to God, The Almighty, and talk with him, thank him, ask for forgiveness, ask for help, and listen freely without fear. And he eats it up! He wanted this from the start, remember? There is no need for false sacrifices during Lent or any other time of the year.
Micah 7: 18, 19 (NLT) reads, “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! (Bold accent is mine).
All that is asked of us to begin that relationship with God and to gain eternal life with him, is to accept the gift Jesus gave. When we believe he is God’s only birth-Son, that he came from heaven, died, was buried, and resurrected, we know he has the power to forgive sins. We can repent and place our trust in God’s unfailing love.
The cross. It’s so simple yet nothing is as profound. Let’s not bury it in chocolate.
Today’s Helpful Word
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.