From tragedy to triumph

By Clay Peck, Lead Pastor, Grace Place

The Surveyor

So much has changed in our world due to the COVID-19 virus. But, I refuse to call this the “new normal.” It is the temporary abnormal. Some things never change. God is still on the throne and he is able to turn tragedy into triumph. This Sunday is the greatest reminder of that. In Jerusalem, there is an empty tomb that declares the sovereignty of God. And this Sunday, nearly 2000 years after the resurrection of Jesus, 2.3 billion believers around the world—that’s one out of every three people on the planet—are celebrating that God turns tragedy into triumph.

We may be apart but not alone. We may be separated but not isolated. The church building is closed but not our Bibles. Lights are out in the auditorium but not in our hearts. Believers are not in the same room, but we are on the same page, united in our faith. The building may be empty, but take courage, so is the tomb! And that changes everything—forever. Easter is not a location, it’s a celebration!

Even though for the first time in a century, we cannot meet together in person to celebrate Easter, that does not mean that God’s church is closed or going away. Our celebration is different this year, but no virus or threat is going to stop God’s people from celebrating the greatest event in human history! I encourage you to go online Sunday and join the celebration with the church of your choice.

If you are not a person of faith, perhaps it is time to reevaluate. Many people are hungry for spiritual answers. Now more than ever.  Google searches for prayer, faith and hope are way up. People are inquiring. Maybe you have not come to church but right now the church can come to you, thanks to technology. With all the bad news in the headlines, the good news of Jesus Christ is more relevant than ever.

Here’s why: The world has a virus infection that is far greater than all the viruses we’ve ever known throughout history. That virus is sin. There is absolutely no immunity, no survivors and no hope. It infects 100% of humanity. No one is spared. That is why we all need a Savior. We need the salvation that comes only through Jesus—“the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). God tells us that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Headlines that daily remind us of local and global deaths due to the pandemic also serve as a regular reminder of our mortality. We owe it to ourselves to look beyond our present difficulties, and how long we will live in this life, and how we can be most successful and comfortable in this life, and face what matters most: what lies ahead after we die. Because Jesus defeated sin and death on the first Easter morning, those who put their faith in him and receive this gift of salvation can face the immediate and eternal future with confidence.

Do you know how many times in the Bible that God encourages us to not be afraid – 365 times! I guess he knew we would need to hear it over and over; every day of the year. Listen to this encouragement: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). The best antidote for anxiety is the “peace of God.” It is a supernatural peace that fills your heart when you put your trust in him.

We are all experiencing various emotions during this time of crisis. Fear, anxiety, confusion, frustration, grief, loneliness, loss and more. Those are all very real. But even in the middle of a storm, there is peace available. God promises that he will give you his peace if you keep choosing to put your trust in him: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3-4).

God forever demonstrated on Easter that he can turn tragedy into triumph. Courage to you friends!

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