A Jacobian Easter
Easter is that time where Christians of all stripes enthusiastically celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. For many, it is an affirmation of a belief in a God that became a man and rose from the dead, and for liturgical Christians, it is the end of a long penance season.
For many of our brothers and sisters in the faith, this season of joy is just one more reminder of who's not with them. Maybe they are estranged from loved ones, or someone has passed away, or maybe their kids are with their divorced spouse. For them, the promise of the resurrection seems far away, and the hope of eternal happiness is just ethereal. When down like this, doubt begins to creep in. They are wrestling with the Christian message. Nothing feels real, and everyone else's happiness just magnifies their sorrow. It's an eternal Lent with no empty tomb in site.
What no one tells these somber Christians is that this feeling of distantness to the divine is not only reasonable but, maybe even the most honest experience that Christians have. Faith that comes easy is often cheap. Faith is to often tied to our emotional status and as such finds depression as a kryptonite that it cannot overcome. If you feel this way what you need to know is that your doubt isn't a hindrance to belief, but rather you are a beacon for others to follow. The Christian faith is linked to the unlikely scenario that God not only entered into history but also willingly accepted death so that it could be destroyed from within. This belief should push us to our intellectual and spiritual breaking point. If it doesn't then Christianity has become a philosophy were the resurrection becomes a metaphor. But if it's true then the universe was forever changed, and, that's not something that can be easily explained much less understood.
Making sense of such an event should be hard and despite the Churches best attempts the mechanisms of Christian salvation our beyond our simple understanding. The feeling of distance doesn't point to a lack of faith but rather the seriousness required in undertaking it.
I propose this Easter season that those for whom faith comes easily ask why that is. Look towards your more melancholy brothers and sisters and realize that their struggle isn't a walking away from belief, but rather they are grappling with it. They, like Jacob before them, are wrestling with angels and like Jacob, their struggle could very be what someone else needs to see past the overly emotional Christianity of 21st century America and reconnect with the faith of the early Church.