It’s Easter today, the Christian holiday where we wear our prettiest spring dresses and celebrate the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, that the winter of weeping is over, that death has been swallowed up in victory.
To be honest, there was no pretty new dress for me this year, and no enchanting sunrise service on a pretty mist-covered hill. Instead I had a headache and a sore knee, and I slept in, missing Sunday school and rushing out the door with no time to wash my hair. But sometimes words run through my head like snatches of music, and today’s was decidedly Easter-themed. “Redemption…redemption…redemption…”
I didn’t realize that redemption was such an important part of my worldview until I had to read a deeply troubling story in my writing class last fall. As we discussed it, I could tell that my classmates were also disturbed. I am quite sensitive to creepy stories, and this one felt demonic to me, even though though there was nothing overtly “supernatural” about the story. It affected me so deeply that I had a lot of trouble sleeping.
I couldn’t put my finger on what was so awful about the story. There were disturbing and unkind characters, and completely unjust deaths, but many stories, including ones from the Bible, contain these elements.
Why did the story feel so demonic to me?
And then I realized why: there was no redemption in the story.
The bad things happened, and that was it. No hope. Nothing came of the evil except more evil.
When I realized this, I made up my own epilogue to the creepy story, deliberately extending redemption to each character. The innocent characters had their voices heard, instead of being shamed into silence. The people who died met Jesus in heaven. The evil people repented of their sin. Parents and children reconciled. The characters openly talked about what had happened, and forgave each other.
After I imagined a redemption for each character, the bout of insomnia left me and I slept peacefully once again.
This experience affected me deeply, and made me think about the differences between that utterly hopeless story and stories that are told from a Christian worldview. The core of the Christian worldview, I realized, is redemption. Bad things happen because we live in a broken world where people do horrible things to each other, and yet we cling to our hope of redemption. The whole Biblical narrative is full of awful things happening to people, but the thread of redemption runs through it all.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to a city to dwell in;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
till they reached a city to dwell in.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
(Psalm 107: 2-9)
And then, Christ’s death and resurrection, and the ultimate redemption of the burden of sin everyone had suffered through during the majority of the Bible.
Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)
And this is what Easter means to me. This is why I’ve clung to my faith through chronic illness and severe depression and the tragic death of a family member. I believed that there was redemption for my story. I’ve seen redemption happen, both to myself and others, and it is beautiful and life-changing.
We may weep, as the disciples did when Jesus was dead, and hope seemed far away. But in the end, death loses, and life wins.
Mom’s ABC post 14, about shame, can be found here.
Jenny’s ABC post 15, about our recent hike to Opal Creek, is located here.
Occasionally, when I’ve woken up with sweat pouring down and my pulse racing, I make up an alternative ending to whatever crazy nightmare I’ve had. It helps.
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This was such a blessing and encouragement to read, Emily. I share your world view. The words running through my mind all day yesterday were from [the Bible ultimately] but more specifically from the hymn, “He is Lord, He is Lord; He is risen from the dead and He is Lord. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess–that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Thank you for sharing your experiences, your reactions, and your deep thoughts with us.
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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. If you haven’t read it, don’t go look it up. I hate that story. It was even in my ACE curriculum, in my Christian School back in the 80’s. Awful thing. Maybe I should make a redemptive twist to it, like you describe, and I can get past it.
So interesting. I’ve never read the story, but I remember my sister reading it for a class and talking to me about it, and I got the same awful heavy feeling just from her description.
“For he satisfies the longing soul,
and the hungry soul he fills with good things”
Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
He satisfies and fills with His Presence and Redemption! It IS beautiful!!