Today, we live in a world impacted by pandemic and natural disasters. We are all going through a difficult phase of our lives. Many are coping with complex personal environments and circumstances. This is where we need spiritual support to fill that vacuum left by the absence of God in us.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” was the catch-line during our tough five week-long Commando training, considered amongst the toughest in the world, designed to push the trainees, testing our physical and mental toughness to an extreme. Our training began at 2 AM with physical training, obstacle crossing, long marches up to 40 km, and ended at midnight with night navigation marches, raids, and ambushes – all while carrying our personal weapon – the rifle weighing over 5 kg and a 30 kg backpack.
This was where I needed someone to hold my hand, pat me at the back, encourage me to complete the tough tasks, push me from the back through those long endurance marches, etc. Here my faith in Christ helped endure through it successfully. I found our Saviour, the Resurrected Christ there when and where I needed Him. Whatever physical and mental turbulence I was going through, He underwent many times more and emerged successful.
Timothy 2:3 says, “Endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The bible does not offer you space to complain or crib. St Paul was beaten, persecuted, betrayed, drowned, and thrown into a prison, still he never complained. Paul endured his perils by holding to his faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Did Jesus Christ ever complain even while He was dying on the cross?
The essence of resurrection is contained in the verse Luke 24: 5 where the angels at the tomb said to the women who went to anoint Jesus’ body: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” It happens to be the first spoken word after the resurrection of Christ.
This question led the women to understand the reality of resurrection. We must realise how pertinent it is in our daily lives. Resurrection celebrates the moment death was defeated and hope came alive. If you are looking for Jesus among the dead, you will not find him, because he is not there.
We often end up failures, dissatisfaction, or burnout after the long and treacherous hours we put in. Often our efforts do not bring us a sense of achievement and fulfilment. This could be due to the lack of realisation as to how our effort may have helped others and not us. We place an unrealistic expectation on returns that will lead to frustration, anger, and disappointment. It is a way of seeking the living among the dead. Here we are not looking at the joy and happiness that our action has brought to someone else (living,) but we are more concerned about what we will receive in return (dead.)
We look for the dead weighing our success based on our achievements like bank balance, grades scored, promotions achieved, the brands of the clothes we wear, the car we drive and so on. We keep looking for self-worth in our personal image and some end up finding relief in drug and alcohol abuse, leading to addiction (further death) not liberty or freedom or solution to one’s problems (mirage of living.) For some, it leads to anxiety and fear, rather than joy and fulfilment of life.
Looking for the living among the dead also means looking for a spark or a ray of hope when everything around is grim and bleak. While on a military mission, driving on a Himalayan mountain road at about 12,000 feet above sea level, the pickup truck with two soldiers ahead of me suddenly toppled to the side, because the road caved in. The pickup with every tumble lost each of its wheels, finally rested on a tree at bout 1000 feet below. I ran out of the Jeep with my driver and two of my radio operators and we reached the vehicle to see the two soldiers badly injured, bleeding profusely. Upon seeing the state of the vehicle and the tumbles it took, I did not expect any survivors. Here I was ‘Looking for the living among the dead’ as hardly anyone survived such accidents in that area. We carried the two injured soldiers up the steep slope, evacuated them to the nearest first-aid post to be evacuated by the Army Helicopter and they survived.
Until today, I do not know how we rolled down that steep slope, brought those soldiers up the mountain. Everything appeared to be a miracle, where the Resurrected Christ gave me the strength to execute the task. It saved the lives of two soldiers, but for us who participated in it, it was all some bruises left on our body by the bamboo which grew on the mountain slope. No one complained. We were all happy that we could save two lives. That is what soldiering is all about – Risking one’s life to save others.
Whenever I passed on that road again, I felt the Resurrected Christ appearing before me.
This Easter, we must all look for our resurrected living Saviour, one who brings joy and life and hope, the one about whom the Prophet Isaiah said: “Those who hope in me will never be disappointed.”