The Easter season is a celebration of second chances, renewal, and surprising fulfillment. This is not only true for those who witnessed the first Easter, but for us today as well!
On the first Easter Sunday, God took the disciples’ greatest disappointment and turned it into their greatest happiness. Unfortunately for us, disappointment is one of the biggest deterrents of faith. It is fuel for bitterness and sorrow that can keep us from the joy, peace, and freedom in life we truly want.
This is not to say it’s terrible to prefer an outcome and then experience disappointment when it does not happen. However, it would be a mistake to let that disappointment continue. We do not need to live in disappointment because God did not raise Jesus from the dead simply for you to talk about how great He is. Jesus was raised from the dead to show us what God will do for us as well.
The Scriptures proclaim the promise of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,” (John 11:25), and that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).While it’s true following Jesus leads us to heaven, it’s not always easy to understand when the experience of heaven starts.
Those who choose God enjoy complete heavenly bliss at the end of their earthly lives. This experience of heaven is otherworldly, perfect, and completely absent of pain and sorrow. This is the goal of life, but heaven is by no means merely a carrot that is dangled before us as motivation to be good. We can enjoy a taste of heaven now.
When we are baptized, we receive a seal of eternal heavenly life. This means that if we maintain this seal, we can enjoy a taste of heaven since eternal life has already begun for us. Pope Benedict XVI said, “‘eternal life’ is life itself, real life, which can also be lived in the present age and is no longer challenged by physical death.”
This means eternal life begins now and we can enjoy a resurrected life right now. There is hope for all those who suffer and who are sorrowful right now. Of course, this does not mean that life is always going to be easy, comfortable or fun. However, it does mean there will be peace, joy, and deep fulfillment.
Yes, you cannot separate Christianity from the cross, as Jesus declared that we must deny ourselves and take up our crosses to follow Him. However, we also should keep in mind that there is a reward for taking up our crosses and dying to ourselves for the sake of Jesus Christ. It will bring about a new kind of life that is full of goodness, joy, satisfaction, and peace. This means that we may know partially what heaven will be like even while on Earth!
Much of this is hard to explain with words, however, from my own experience I have been so filled with God’s goodness that I have known what it is like to want nothing in this world other than Him. Even at the beginning of my conversion from hedonism, He gave me a profound glimpse of His heavenly goodness and helped me to see that He was better than any drug or pleasure this earth could ever offer!
All this is to say whatever dreams of happiness you may have in life that you laid to rest in your heart are not truly dead. If you are filled with the grace and hope of Jesus Christ, then you should be enjoying eternal life right now. Happiness is yours!
What have you put to death in your life that you believe with all your heart will never come true for you? What hope of happiness have you given up on and are certain is no longer an option for you, although you wish you could still hope for it? Is it a dream for your life that you felt you lost sight of? Is it being the person you were before something happened to take away your joy? Some promise that you at one time believed God would give you? Or maybe it was you once believed you could be happy in this life, but you now only expect sadness?
Unfortunately, we go through a lot of trauma, disappointment, and suffering in this life. The good news, though, is that we have a God of Resurrection. We have a God who, despite the suffering, despite discomfort, despite our own mistakes and failings, He will raise us up to peace, joy, goodness, and happiness simply through our trust in Him.
Trust that whatever you have put to death in your heart, whatever hope of happiness you have given up on, can be resurrected to reality again through Jesus Christ. It is never too late. God will guide you to discover how this is true..
During the time right before my conversion at 21, I believed there was no more goodness for me in life and I would be a waste forever. God did not give up on me and when I finally turned to Him I discovered how much more He had in store for me. We simply need to begin to turn our gaze to God, trust in Him, and expect Him to show up for us in miraculous ways.
No one who patiently trusted in God has ever been disappointed. Go to Him. Give Him permission to work in your life and He will resurrect your dreams, your identity, your happiness, and much more! Then you will know what heaven is like.