An Easter for Doubters Like Me

Growing up, Easter was an occasion when I spent a few weeks looking for the perfect, white dress, which also required white tights, even in Florida’s 80-degree weather. The car ride to church would smell of hairspray and cigarette smoke, and after our big, Southern Baptist Easter service, we’d eat out at a steakhouse. After I finished off my sirloin tips and chocolate cake, I’d return home to my Easter basket, full of plastic grass and chocolate eggs. This was deeply imprinted on my brain, and thus Easter was a conflicted mishmash of cross and bunny well into my adulthood—and even as a true believer.

Year later, during a particularly brutal struggle with dark fears and social anxieties, I learned something new; I realized how hideous I really was—selfish, compulsive, bitter. Though Satan was my enemy, I joined him in his adult-sized work of condemnation. In fact, my own accusing mind rendered my life a daily, living hell; eventually, it got worse, as unanswered questions about tragic deaths led me to doubt that God even existed.

As a mom raising young kids in a dark world, this final assault was a deep dagger to my heart. How could I mother children this way? I remember laying outside on a deck chair daily, looking into a bleak January sky, desperate for hope. With God now vanished behind an atheistic cloud, I was left with only the muted warmth of a meaningless sun, hanging—somehow—in its meaningless universe. On Spiritual Combat: 3... Adam Davis Best Price: $9.98 Buy New $12.29 (as of 12:07 UTC - Details)

After that dark month of life passed—a diagram of an eyeball broke its spell—I cannot sufficiently describe the beauty of God’s existence. This time, though, a bigger God existed. It was not just a Sunday-best, white-shoed God of seasonal church traditions. Instead, it was the one who designed a camera in the human eye; even better, he had put on flesh and willingly endured the blackest spiritual assaults of hell, taking the wrathful punishment for my sin in my place.

Following this small experience of hell, Easter brought a new kind of suffering savior to light for me. As unimaginably painful and gory the scourging and nails in flesh were, they weren’t the pinnacle of his pain; instead, it was the loss of God’s sensible presence, the hellish feeling of abandonment that led Jesus to cry, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” If Jesus suffered that way, then he understood my frowning universe and hopeless sky, too. Even more shocking was that he’d endured this agony for 21st-century doubters like me.

I Peter 2:24 states this simply:

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Maybe you struggled to invent Easter joy amidst the pastel shirts, egg hunts and chocolate-covered traditions. Maybe you were a confused mix of guilt, boredom and cheer during a Hallelujah-filled worship service. Maybe you couldn’t connect with the historical setting of his Roman crucifixion or grasp God’s ancient-sounding demand for blood atonement. When the good news feels distant, the yearly Easter worship turns into a perfunctory bit of ceremony.

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