I have a brother and sister who died in a plane crash when they were 10 and 14 years old. Although I only have one memory of them, I definitely felt their absence growing up. I know my father did too.
Dad was in denial for a while after they died. The private plane in which they were traveling crashed into the Gulf of Mexico during a storm and rescue teams never found any wreckage or bodies.
Dad kept hoping they were somewhere out there until one day when he had a vision of the moment Rhonie and Scottie died. It was too much for him and he began uncontrollably sobbing as his heart shattered to pieces with that airplane.
He quoted Jeremiah 31:15 to describe his feelings of devastation: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." I don't think he ever stopped grieving -- or hoping.
It seems like the pain will never end, but for those who hold fast to the Lord of resurrection, we know this: We will have our own reunion with him in heaven one day.
My brother and I got a taste of Dad's hope one day when we were kids and Dad began dreaming out loud about his heavenly reunion with Rhonie and Scottie. The images were so vivid, the emotions so intense that I began jumping up and down, trying to launch out of my body and into glory. That must have been a bittersweet moment for Dad.
It's hard for me to imagine what it would be like to lose one of my children -- I don't want to imagine it. God doesn't have to though. Like my dad, he knows all to well.
God held back and watched as his Son was bludgeoned and beaten and whipped and spat upon and nailed to a cross with no mercy. What his tears must have been like that Friday afternoon.
Then Easter Sunday came.
What it must have been like for Father God to see his Son alive again after such a violent ending to an innocent life. I can almost picture the Father at the resurrection, his face exploding with the most radiant smile in all of eternity saying, "There you are!" and welcoming his Son back from the dead.
My father finally got to have his own reunion with his lost son and daughter three months ago when his heart gave out and he left this world.
What a sight it must have been for Dad to see Rhonie and Scottie, throw his arms around them and say, "There you are!" It was the Easter Sunday Dad had been waiting for -- a celebration of resurrection beyond his wildest imaginations.
We all suffer in different ways. Our hearts are broken by depression, shame, secret burdens, sickness, damaged relationships and death. It seems like the pain will never end, but for those who hold fast to the Lord of resurrection, we know this: We will have our own reunion with him in heaven one day.
"There you are!" he'll say. And, as Teresa of Avila put it, "In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel."
Let's take courage in the midst of our suffering. Our Easter Sunday is coming.