Reflections for Holy Week: Hope in Suffering

By Elaine Phillips, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Biblical Studies

As disturbing images daily bombard our wounded senses, or tragedy smashes the foundations of our own lives, wherein lies our hope? Come resurrection morning, can we sing “Christ is risen!” with joy? Will we proclaim with every fiber of our being that what rages around us is not the last word?

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent Word.” Ah, here we find refuge. We cling to God’s steadfast covenant love that triumphs over grief and pain. We rejoice in God’s mighty acts, in his strength and salvation (Psalm 118:1–14). “This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice” (Psalm 118:24)—no matter what.

Living on the cusp of disaster, Jeremiah nevertheless heard the Lord declare, “I love you with everlasting love.” God with us! Hope. And God’s people did return to Zion (31:1–6).

Mary, her world shattered in the early morning darkness after Sabbath, wept in anguish. Asked “Why are you weeping?” she tried to explain her terrible uncertainty. Then, as the “Gardener” lovingly spoke her name, her life was overturned once again—“Rabbi!” “Master!”

With Mary, we hail our risen master. We wholeheartedly affirm the words of the Heidelberg Catechism—“I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.” Therein lies our hope.

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“Reflections for Holy Week”—daily devotionals written by Gordon College faculty and compiled by the Center for Faith and Inquiry (CFI)—was first published in the spring 2018 issue of STILLPOINT magazineCFI is dedicated to forming thoughtful Christians for global engagement by carrying on valued traditions and innovating new ones—such as the Distinguished Visiting Scholars program, Jeffersonian dinners, the Gordon College Symposium and a variety of publications.