God is in Control - A Paschal Message
Before time and space and matter ever began, there was a conversation in heaven.
“My Son, I want to give you a gift. But before You accept it, I will describe it and You must decide whether to accept this gift or not. It will be such a beautiful gift called “Cosmos,” a precious jewel among all we create. I will place as king over this creation a being that will be created in Our image and likeness. We will call this creature human.
“Thank You, Father,” the Son responded. “I accept this gift.”
“Wait. There is more. Things down on earth won’t go as we hope. These humans, since they are created in our image and likeness, have free will, and with their freedom they will rebel again Us, against the Cosmos, and even against each other. This separation from Us and from one another will destroy everything. The only way they can be saved is if YOU become one of them to show them the way of life and to teach them how to love.”
“I will gladly do this” the Son responded
“But my Son, there is more. They will not accept You when you go to them. They will reject You. They will turn away from Your way of life. They will ignore Your teachings. Even one of Your closest friends will betray You and another will deny even knowing You. Your own people on earth will hate you, ridicule You, call You evil, spit upon you, whip you, crucify You, and put You to the most miserable death. Only by showing them what a perfect human being is, only by teaching them and revealing to them the true path of divine love, only by experiencing the entire human condition to the point of death, and only by destroying death itself through Your own death, only then will they find a path back to Us. Only then will they be saved. So, what do you think? Do you accept this gift?”
The Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity, let a single tear flow from his eye. He then smiled and said, “Let there be light!”
(paraphrased from a poem by Benedict Groeschel)
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The mystery of creation, of life in this temporal world and of death itself, of things eternal and everlasting, all this mystery is beyond our human understanding. We can use our finite minds to try and comprehend the Infinite, the Eternal One, but no matter how smart we are, no matter how hard we try, and no matter how much we progress as a society, we will always fall short in fully understanding the ways of God. As the Prophet Isaiah declared, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts greater than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Yet in this Mystery of Life, even if we don’t fully understand it, we can know one thing for sure – God is in control. He created the universe and He sustains the world. No darkness or uncertainty, no death or destruction, no crisis or fear should ever take away this assurance. As we face a pandemic unlike anything we’ve seen in the past 100 years, and deal with the economic fallout of this ongoing calamity, we can find comfort in knowing that ultimately God is in control.
If we learned anything from our journey through Holy Week, it should be this. Nothing happens outside the knowledge and will of God. No matter how dark and unsettling things appeared during the Passion of Christ – especially with the betrayal of Judas, the rejection of Jesus by His own people, the hypocrisy and blindness of the religious leaders, the cruelty of the Roman soldiers, and the unfairness of the perfect man becoming a sacrificial lamb crucified on the Cross for an ungrateful world – nothing happened outside the knowledge and will of God.
God is in control.
Jesus understood that He was a part of a greater plan to save the world. He understood that Divine Love will always conquer hatred and evil. Uncreated Light will always shine forth in the deepest darkness. Death can never have the final say over the Source of Life.
God is in control.
From our limited human perspective, sometimes it appears that evil wins out, sometimes it appears that hope has been lost, sometimes it appears that hatred is too great, sometimes it appears that life is too uncertain, sometimes it appears that death has the final say. Yet, we must never forget that our human perspective is limited. Our ways are not God’s ways.
God is in control.
Imagine if you were Peter or one of the other disciples of Christ. Your beloved Master was dead. Your dreams of a Messianic revolution ended. Your lives shattered and all meaning and direction lost. One of your 12 committed suicide and the rest felt terrible shame and guilt for abandoning their beloved Teacher. Yet, in the midst of their deepest despair, they experience the unthinkable. Mary Magdalene comes from the tomb early Sunday morning with unbelievable news – she has seen the Risen Christ. Peter and John run to the tomb and find it empty, with an angel telling them “Why do you seek the living among the dead. He is not here. He is risen.” Cleopas and Luke meet a stranger on the road to Emmaus and discover it’s Jesus Himself. Even after Christ appears to the ten disciples in the upper room and upbraided them for their disbelief, Thomas still can’t believe, and it takes another week for him to see the Lord, touch his hands and side, and finally proclaim, “My Lord and My God.”
What appeared impossible just became possible! The crucified Master becomes the Risen Lord, and life will never be the same. This unfathomable miracle becomes the cornerstone of a new life, a new perspective on life, an eternal life with God.
When everything seemed dark and hopeless, God revealed once again that His ways are not our ways, and that ultimately, He is in control!
Holy Pascha, our celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, this Easter Sunday, is first and foremost a participation in Christ’s victory, and a remembrance that we are never alone, that no darkness is greater than the Paschal Light, and that no event in history stands outside the will of the One “who is, who was, and who is to come, the Lord Almighty.” May we not forget this even in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis. The coronavirus pandemic isn’t outside the control of God. The economic fallout from this catastrophe isn’t outside the control of God. And whatever happens to each one of us personally is not outside the control of God.
Christ is Risen! God is in control! And with faith in the Risen Lord, we can go forth in peace facing whatever tomorrow will bring. Don’t allow any anxiety, fear, worry, or stress ever let you forget that Christ is Risen and God is in control!
Christos Anesti! Krishti u Ngjall! Christ is Risen!
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The Power of Divine Love
Our Orthodox Faith