The bloom of spring has always been a catalyst for my spirit after a long, dark, cold winter. I love driving down my winding country road surrounded by a canopy of new green leaves and the purple blossoms of redbud trees.

This year, I haven’t been able to truly enjoy this season of rebirth. Yes, the sun is shining and the world is bursting with new life outside, but inside I have been carrying around a dark cloud of worry, anxiety and fear—a heaviness composed of the sorrows I see in my life, the lives of my friends, and in the world at large.

Two long weeks ago, my daughter started experiencing excruciating pain in her chest, and though we have sought the advice of numerous medical experts, we have no real answers and no relief of her symptoms.

We desperately want a diagnosis, but are afraid of what it might be. I want to take all of her pain away and to stop all of the tears. But I am helpless to do anything but fight for answers and pray to God to heal my little girl.

On top of my own burdens, I carry with me the struggles of so many of my friends, people who I love dearly. There are houses that don’t want to sell, children who are in rebellion, marriages that are falling apart, and mortgages that are not able to be paid.

Finally, my heart was broken when I saw the flames and smoke billowing from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this week. In the grand scheme of things it sounds trivial to mourn the loss of a building, but Notre Dame is not just a building made of stone and wood. It is the work of generations who dedicated their lives in order to build a towering monument to the God they loved, and it has stood sentinel over Paris for centuries.

The images showing the charred remains of the once breathtaking cathedral are painful to view. The wooden roof is completely gone, as is the spire that once reached toward the heavens. The vault has collapsed into the cathedral in sections and there are questions as to whether or not the stone walls that were left standing are structurally sound.

Yet, through it all, the cross on the alter remains, shining through the darkness and destruction like a beacon. The image of the undamaged cross surrounded by the burnt remains of the cathedral serves as a beautiful reminder that no matter how difficult or broken our lives are, hope and healing can be found in Jesus.

Christians around the world will step away from their everyday lives and their everyday—or incredibly great—burdens, and will join together to celebrate Easter tomorrow morning. We will not be celebrating the fact that Jesus has made our lives perfect. No, instead we will celebrate because Jesus came into the ruins of our broken lives and offered us hope, healing and restoration.

And while the cross serves as a beautiful reminder of Christ’s victory over sin, the empty tomb is the true symbol of Easter. For the tomb represents victory over death and brings the promise of no more tears, pain or sorrow for all those who believe.

Because of the cross, I carry no shame for the sins of my past. They have been forgiven and I have been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Because of the cross, I’ve been brought into right relationship with God the Father. What was once broken as the result of sin and rebellion was made whole through Jesus. Because of the cross, I can go to God in faith and confidence instead of fear and trembling.

Just as the ruins of Notre Dame will be restored to their former glory, the lives of all who “confess Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead” will be redeemed from this broken, hurting world (Romans 10:9). And that is a hope worth celebrating this season, even when it feels like all is falling apart.

Postscript: Forty-five minutes after writing these words, I received a call from my husband’s co-worker informing me that he had been rushed to the hospital suffering from a heart attack. I am currently sitting by his bedside praying for healing and restoration. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know Who holds my future. Would you please keep my family in your prayers?

Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who lives in Fredericksburg. You can contact her through her website, heatherablondi.com.

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