During the Easter season, I have found myself thinking about the pain and suffering of Jesus Christ in light of the resurrection. The cross and the empty tomb go together. As the writer of Hebrews declared, “for the joy set before Jesus, he endured the cross, scorning its shame.” Simply put, there are days of pain and disappointment in our calling while we live in the hope of the restoration of all things.
Years ago I was visiting a Maasai tribal area in the wilderness of Kenya. Our Maasai guide led us in pursuit of finding lions in the nearby game preserve. In no time our mini-bus was surrounded by a full pride, curious about the four-wheeled visitor that had meandered into their territory. A few minutes after we arrived, a cape buffalo wandered into a grassy field within eye sight. Over the next two hours the youngest, swiftest and strongest of the pride of lions slowly and quietly dispersed in pairs and surrounded the massive bull from all sides. The guide pointed out that the biggest lions with the largest manes positioned themselves directly in front of the cape buffalo. Suddenly, these mature lions rose up in front of the buffalo and let out a series of massive roars.
If you were the cape buffalo, what would you do?
Most of us would probably have done the same as the cape buffalo did, turn and run away from the roars. But in doing so it ran right into the trap of the other lions.
You see our guide then told us that those big lions, with the largest manes and the loudest roars, are actually the oldest, weakest and slowest lions in the pride. Sometimes they are even toothless! Therefore, the best way to escape would have been to run directly towards them.
To run towards the roar.
At Food for the Hungry (FH) we can relate to this. Sometimes disasters keep happening in the same places, such as the Philippines. Other times, conflict and hardship refuse to end like in Syria/Iraq and South Sudan. Programs in DR Congo seem to go on and on and on and on with little lasting fruit. There are days when I listen to our devoted field staff and hear the voice of fatigue… even fear. The temptation would be to run to the perceived safe place.
This should not surprise us. For even Jesus sweat blood and asked for the cup of suffering to be removed from him. Yet the will of God where his grace was to be known was actually in the hardest place of pain and suffering.
But in probing deeper within our staff, I see the spark of faith and hear the hope of resurrection life. The Lord God has not abandoned us. He is engaged in the fight against extreme poverty in all its forms. He is present with the poor and most vulnerable. He has planted the flag – resurrection is our hope. We are on the right side of history and one day we will know that God has used our efforts, faith, love and prayers to make all things right.
Therefore, the Holy Week shouts to me, “Persevere. Let’s run towards the roar. Let’s end poverty together!”
It is my deepest desire that you will find hope and peace in Jesus’ resurrection as we celebrate Easter.