Easter holds a special significance for me this year.
Despite April 1st already being our six-month wedding anniversary, April Fool’s Day, and the anniversary of my first half marathon, it holds yet another significant meaning in my life. I lost my dad four years ago, and April 1st would be his 52nd birthday this year. As a kid, I always loved that my dad’s birthday was on April Fool’s Day. I used to come up with ideas for birthday-themed pranks, although I never actually did any of them (fun fact: I’m terrible at pulling off pranks). My dad was a good dad. He loved me and was proud of me, and he told me often. He wasn’t perfect, but who is? We went to church some when I was little but not often. I never knew that he loved Jesus, but we never talked about it. I’ll come back to that.
When my dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness, I think everything changed for him. We talked more, he started contemplating what he wanted out of life, and he wanted to be a better man. Even though the year when my dad was sick was the hardest in my life, I did a lot of growing too. The summer I found out he was dying was when I really started following Jesus. I finally understood my need for a constant companion and a Savior.
So what does all this have to do with Easter?
Easter is the celebration of Christ’s victory over death. When Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah, he said this:
“He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:8)
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would do this, and he did. Jesus accomplished what he came to do. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, voluntarily died to pay the debt of our sins, and rose to life again. That is why we’re celebrating. That is why I am thankful for the overlap of Easter and my dad’s birthday—what a sweet reminder that Jesus’s death and resurrection mattered.
Before my dad died, he started reading his Bible every day. He always had it near him, and he loved Matthew 10:13 because it had his first name in it: Thaddaeus. He often heard that his name was spelled weird, but he loved having this proof that he was named after a disciple. He also carried a cross with him everywhere; it was a wooden one that fits perfectly into the mold of your hand, so he was always holding onto it. He loved it so much that he had a copy made for me. I had it attached to my bouquet at my wedding, and I cherish it so deeply.
I got the chance to see my dad really come to love Jesus right before he died. That was one of the greatest gifts God will ever give me. Easter matters, because Jesus’s resurrection made my dad worthy of eternal life. Without the resurrection, death would hurt so much more. “Oh death, where is your sting? Oh death, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) Everything has changed because of Easter Sunday.
The only reason I have been able to fight through grief over the last four years is this: death is beaten.
If you find yourself in a season of mourning, or you know a friend who has lost a loved one, remember the sufficient work of Jesus this Easter season. He came to this earth to abolish death and earn eternal life for those who would follow him. Let’s celebrate that.
If you are struggling with the death of a loved one or want to talk more about what I shared in this post, please reach out! I would love to talk. Simply click the Contact button and shoot me a message!