GUEST EDITORIAL: Easter: A love that never quits

Apr. 20, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Most of us wouldn't be who we are if it wasn't for the stubborn love of someone else. Maybe it was a teacher who wouldn't give up on us by insisting we get it right. Perhaps a friend saw more potential in us than we could ever see in ourselves. Or a grandparent kept loving us despite our uncanny ability to mess up our lives. Easter is about a love that just wouldn't quit.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus was tempted to stop loving the world in order to fix it. With a snap of the divine finger, Jesus could have solved world hunger, defeated Imperial Rome and converted religious skeptics. In the Garden, he could have chosen a detour from the journey of suffering love. At his crucifixion, he could have saved himself to prove his power and confirm his dignity. However, he chose to die instead of proving himself right. He chose to suffer with the world instead of waving a magic wand. At his last breath, he loved people as they were instead of what they should have been. After resurrection, he came to the weak-hearted and fickle disciples not to lecture, but to love.

What does this teach us about caring for others? How do the path of suffering and the victory of resurrection connect? Without suffering, Jesus' ministry would have been so much more productive. Without the cross, thousands more would have been fed, healed and empowered.

Easter is the ultimate victory of a love that doesn't always need to be practical and relevant. It teaches that standing with those in pain is never a waste. The most you can often do for someone is not to fix, solve, or explain, but to just be there. It's God's decisive announcement to the world that all acts of solidarity with the needy have eternal value. That every loving moment can never be defeated, even when it feels like it has been buried for three days. Remember, every loving word or deed leaves an indelible mark on the canvas of eternity! What inspiration this is to those of us who are ready to quit loving, working and praying because we don't see results.

My mother worked in a nursing home for decades changing bedpans, cleaning up messes and coping with death and dying. It was hard, physical work. It was emotionally draining and the pay was never enough. She suffered with those residents because she loved them. She couldn't fix the health care system, cure their ailments or give them hope for a better life. She simply cried, laughed and gave out countless hugs. Her nursing career has taken years off her life, but she truly believed that loving others was always God's calling.

This love often feels like we are doing nothing or that more can be done. This love resists the temptation of making others into small versions of ourselves. This love allows others the freedom to live life on their terms with the support of an unconditional relationship. There were days that I wished a better fate for my mom and for Jesus, but without suffering love our Easter joy is cut short.

The empty tomb is God's affirmation that every hug, tear, prayer, hand holding and listening ear means more than we will ever realize. Easter reminds every exhausted nurse, underpaid teacher and overwhelmed parent who wants to quit that through the path of suffering new life is born. It is in the hard struggle of loving that we find the victory of the empty tomb. It's that same gritty, messy, tough love we find in the very heart of God. We celebrate Easter because Jesus' love didn't quit. With the strength of that undefeated and undeterred love, may we love others with a stubbornness that cannot be shaken. When you choose to suffer with others, the victory of the empty tomb is yours.