Do you ever feel exhausted by caring? Worn out in the pursuit of justice that forever seems to be just out of reach…. I do.
We don’t get to ‘choose’ how much we care. Or why it is that certain issues, groups of people or causes grab our hearts and burden us the way they do.
But we can choose to ‘hope’ in the midst of the fight.
Easter Sunday is the reminder that hope is on the way, and that in the end, all will be set right.
And for this worn-out activist, there couldn’t be better news.
The ‘curse’ of caring
Sometimes I truly wonder if my wife and I are fools. It feels like we’re forever pouring ourselves into people and problems that seem to have only the slightest possibility of success, with odds on heartbreak or failure instead.
There are moments I ask myself whether it would be easier to simply not care. I find myself envying those who seem able to exist so ‘unaffected’ by a world full of injustice and unfathomable violence.
But then again the opportunity to tune out exists for all of us in Western society if that’s what we want.
If there’s one thing we’ve been successful at in the West, it’s that we’ve mastered the ‘art of distraction’, creating entire industries in its name. Their shiny goods promise fast entertainment, comfort and celebrity, and we can’t get enough of them.
I truly believe the continual consumption of such things is our society’s placebo for not dealing with the uncomfortable realities of this world.
But if you’re different, if instead of ‘tuning out’ you lay awake at night agonising over news reports of bombs tearing apart Syria, children languishing in dentition centres and mothers who stare into empty pots whilst hungry mouths call out, then Easter Sunday is exactly what you need.
For Easter Sunday holds within it a truth we cannot afford to miss if we want to be people of justice and hope in a broken world.
When injustice seems like it has won
When Jesus hung on a cross it looked like defeat. Here again was another of history’s well intentioned leaders – whose inspirational message and early success in drawing a crowd seemed to hold within it the potential of a movement – who now appeared disgraced and blazingly unsuccessful.
Can you see him? There he hangs, naked, beaten and humiliated in the company of disillusioned followers, curious onlookers and satisfied oppressors.
But they couldn’t see what we see now… Sunday was coming.
The two ways of viewing Easter Sunday
There are only two ways of viewing the empty tomb on Easter Sunday and the hope-filled ‘rumours’ of resurrection that accompany it.
View #1 – A strange and peculiar fairytale…
The first view sees resurrection as a strange and peculiar twist in what may otherwise have been a semi-plausible story. Few deny whether Jesus existed – His mark on history is too obvious to ignore – but resurrection is a different matter altogether.
Resurrection, for many, takes the story of Jesus, from fact to fiction, from possible to impossible, and positions those who believe in it as either religious fanatics or naive fools, ignorant or desperate enough to ‘believe’ in something so clearly unbelievable.
View #2 – The moment ‘hope’ changed our world forever…
Until the resurrection, death was evil’s most effective weapon. It signalled the end of hope. The shutting down of possibilities and dreams. The final consequence of poverty and the end to which all the world’s senseless violence seems to lead.
How can hope survive once life is gone?
Sure there are the niceties we offer one another in times of grief that serve to momentarily ease the pain we experience when the unthinkable becomes a reality. But for hope to provide any real comfort at all, it needs to possess the power to defeat the source of our deepest fears and insecurities.
And what makes us more afraid than death?
When the followers of Jesus found His tomb empty, something entirely unprecedented had taken place. Death itself had been defeated, and so too its stronghold over us.
With evil’s greatest weapon nullified, a world of possibilities opened up to those of us who reject the notion that ‘things will always be the same’, that injustice, poverty and war are just ‘the way things are’.
As theologian NT Wright puts it, in one of his finest works, Surprised by Hope,
Hope, for the Christian, is not wishful thinking or mere blind optimism. It is a mode of knowing, a mode within which new things are possible, options are not shut down, new creation can happen.
Hope is what you get when you suddenly realise that a different worldview is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word.
The same worldview shift that is demanded by the resurrection of Jesus is the shift that will enable us to transform the world.
It is that last sentence which stands most vital for those of us who remain committed to the pursuit of caring today.
A new way to face injustice
None of this promises to make things easy (which may seem like a contradiction to some after what I’ve just explained). In our pursuit for a better world we will still have to fight, still have to struggle, and will be prone to crying out in despair and disbelief on an all-too-regular basis.
But through the resurrection we fight with the knowledge that, despite not always looking like it, the victory is already won.
And we stand not as idealistic fools whose efforts to ‘do good’ are an exercise in futility but rather as co-labourers and foot soldiers for a God whose cause is love and whose promise is justice.
That’s why Easter Sunday heals this broken activist’s heart.