Let’s start at the beginning, though. We’ve all heard the most popular theory that gets bandied about this time of year by the usual cadre of atheists, neo-pagans, and fundamentalist Christians, the one about how the word Easter is actually derived from Ēostre, the name of an ancient pagan goddess of spring and fertility, who was associated with bunnies and eggs. (To which, no doubt, most of her congregants would respond, “What do bunnies and eggs even have to do with a fertility goddess? We’re really losing track of the true meaning of Ēostre.”) None of that is actually true, though. Or, at least, there’s close to zero evidence for it.
I can’t say life has been particularly easy in recent weeks, and too often I’ve found myself complaining about some of the circumstances I am in. Some of these are related to my health and my inability to type as often or as painlessly as I’d like, some are related to the fatigue that comes with this worldwide project I’ve taken on this year, some are related to people I interact with on a regular basis. Whatever the circumstance, I face the temptation to grumble. And in the face of such temptation, I’ve found it helpful to revisit some counsel I’ve received in the past. Here are some ways I’ve had to speak truth to myself.
While I am more comfortable with the awesome, creative work revealed in Genesis (to say nothing of His relentless pursuit of sinful people like Jacob), it doesn’t take long for me to rub a “theological blister” when God makes a concerted effort to display His might at the expense of an entire nation (I am speaking of the plagues in Exodus 7 and following). It’s an incredibly uncomfortable thing to read what God is capable of. It’s quite disconcerting to not be able to fit God into a perfectly organized theological construct.
According to Jesus, there is a link between our obedience and our joy. We experience the joy of Christ when we abide in His love, but this abiding requires whole-hearted obedience.
Since joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), this makes sense. We are to live by the Spirit and not quench the Spirit by breaking God’s laws (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Our Spirit-given joy dries up when we quench the Spirit through disobedience.
A favorite from the archives:
One of the things we’re working with our children on is the concept of forgiveness—how to ask for it and how to offer it. My oldest typically does the begrudging, sullen, “Sorry…” thing and tries to leave things at that. My middle one is very honest and when you ask if she’ll forgive you says, “I’m not sure, I have to think about it.” And for the moment, Hudson remains a quasi-sociopath. Because, well, he’s two.
But talking with my kids about forgiveness is tricky, in part because it requires me to check my own heart on how I approach it—do I withhold forgiveness as long as possible? Do I do anything that cheapens it?