The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26
April 16, 2017 is Easter. This is the great day in the life of the church. This is the great day in the history of the cosmos. On this day, life triumphs over death. I love that quote from 1 Corinthians – the last enemy to be destroyed is death. In the resurrection, death is forever defeated. Where, oh death is your victory? Where, oh death is your sting?
Life triumphs over death. That is the promise and joy of Easter. That is the promise and joy of our faith. Through the power of the resurrection, death is not just defeated, but it is finally and eternally destroyed.
On Easter, we all dress up and celebrate new life. We take pictures, we hide eggs, we get together with family and friends. It is a joyous day, the most joyous.
And I’m a preacher. Goodness, I love Easter. It’s Super Bowl, the World Series, everything all rolled up into one. As a preacher, if you can’t get a little fired up for Easter, something is wrong. This is our day!
This is the day of the church! This is the day of victory and life and hope!
I love Easter!
But, I do not like April 16.
April 16 is a day that each year I wish would just go away. I often wish I could just fast forward from April 15 to April 19 each year. As you may know, my mother (Mama Sarah) was murdered on April 16. This day is also especially painful because that is her mother’s (my grandmother and adopted mother) birthday. She was later buried on April 18, which is my birthday.
These days always hurt. I know time has passed, and yes, the wounds are not as acute as they used to be. But these days are always painful. I always think of what she was robbed of (seeing me grow up, become a pastor, my marriage, her grandchildren, so many things) and I think of what I have missed out on in life.
April 16 always reminds me of human brokenness and sin and death. It reminds me of the power of evil to rob, kill, and destroy. It reminds me of the power of evil in the world we live in.
And yes, one day God will make all this right. But that day has not completely come. I know that all things work for good. I do. I do not despair.
But if I’m being completely honest, April 16 always hurts.
And this year, it is Easter.
So, here I am. A preacher proclaiming resurrection with a broken heart. A man standing before his people, shouting (literally if you’ve heard me preach!) life wins. When staring at death within my own heart.
It feels conflicted. It feels bittersweet. If I’m honest, it almost feels like a lie.
But you know what?
It’s not. It is not a lie. Death does not win. Sin does not win. Hatred does not win. It may feel like it sometimes. It may feel like death wins. It may feel like evil wins. It may feel like wrong and hate and destruction win.
But they do now. Life wins. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Death, sin, and the grave are defeated. They really and truly are.
Even if we don’t feel it. Even if it hurts. Even if we cry. Even if our hallelujahs are broken.
Death is defeated.
So, yes, on this April 16, I may cry. I may hurt. I may have pain in my heart. But I will shout resurrection. I will shout, “where is that victory, death?” It is defeated.
Life wins. I know it. I know it to be true. And I will believe it.
Even if I do not feel it.
Life wins. The last enemy is defeated.
April 16, death and life battle in my soul. But life has the final word.
Through the power of resurrection, the last enemy is defeated.