Spring is a time of year when most of us feel more cheerful. The lengthening days, the flowers, the greening trees and fields, and some balmy weather all combine to make us feel that bit better about life and the world. Ministers of the Church at this time of year are prone to pointing to all the new life that springs forth at this season as a sign of God’s plan for us: to give us new life both in this world and after we die. Nature becomes a reflection of God’s purpose for us.
Yet nature by itself cannot bring us to know God. Yes, nature does renew itself in the spring, after having died in the previous autumn and winter. But this natural cycle of renewal, growth, and death can be seen as meaningless. It can be seen as simply a vicious circle that takes us nowhere. If we take God out of the picture, spring is nothing more than an illusion, since all this glorious new springtime life is bound to end in death for us and for all the generations that follow us. If the compost heap, so to speak, is the end of it all, why bother? Why bother to leave behind children or the memory of a life that made others happy if you can see no ultimate purpose behind this world of ours and the life it contains?
It is only through faith in God that the whole thing makes sense to me. When I learned to see life as a gift from God, the mysterious creator of all that is, the pieces of the puzzle of life begin to fall into place. Faith tells us that God has put us here, not because we deserve to be here, but simply because God in his goodness has wanted us to be. And God knows that life in this world he has made is not always beautiful and good, like a balmy spring day. It is for this that he sent us his Son, whose life shows us that pain and suffering and death, though very much a part of life, do not have the upper hand. Yes, Jesus died. He died an excruciatingly painful death in the springtime of the year. But on the third day after his death he rose up from his tomb, body and soul, to show us that God has created us for life, not death, and that in his plan goodness and love will ultimately triumph over evil and hate. That is the whole point of the Christian celebration we call Easter.
Enjoy the spring. But if you really want to enjoy it, deep down in your soul, look to Jesus. He will show you that this joyous season of spring is not just a cruel illusion, but a sign of God’s goodness, a goodness that makes the whole of life with its spring, its summer, its autumn, and, even its winter, worth living.
Yours in Christ,