Some versions of Christianity seem to deny the reality that life can be difficult, we are sometimes difficult and God can seem difficult! The Resurrection of Jesus wipes away all such problems. Christ is risen and we have only to believe to live in a state of perpetual joy and tranquillity. In the clarity of this faith, doubt has no place and struggle suggests a lack of grace.
But then I read the accounts of meetings with the risen Jesus within the Gospels. Mary Magdalene is so caught up in her grief that she fails to see the one she has lost standing in front of her. Two friends take the long road away from their hope only to meet a stranger who walks with them and hears their story. Their hearts begin to burn with a life that does not belong to the pain they share. Then the stranger breaks bread and they understand who has been walking alongside them. Peter – who in fear has denied his association with Jesus – attempts to go back to the life that was his before he knew him. But failure greets him there too. There are no fish to be caught through a long, hard night. As morning breaks, a stranger bids him cast out his net again. The size of the catch that follows overcomes Peter and recognition breaks through the darkness of his soul.
These are glimpses – moments – neither looked for, nor expected. The hope that wakes in these windows of recognition will not die, but the moments themselves cannot be held in their grasp. There will be difficulties and doubts again. Fears and failings will still arise. Life will not be trouble free. Mornings will still rise with uncertainties and evenings still fade with what is unresolved. But whether in a garden, or on a seashore, or on a long road – wherever we find ourselves – hope will wait for us, walk with us, break bread for us, call us by our name.