Steve Matthews

In the next hour about 15,000 babies will be born across our planet, and an estimated 6,300 people will die. In spite of war, disease, and famine, the human population continues to expand.

The regenerative energy of human, plant, and animal life is tenacious. Though we find ourselves on the cusp of environmental changes that could affect our world dramatically, monarch butterflies still migrate north in the spring, the remaining 530 North Atlantic right whales still feed in Cape Cod Bay every summer, and ospreys and bald eagles are returning to once-polluted urban waterways to nest and feed. Death is an inevitable reality for all living creatures, but life persists—often “against the odds.”

All around us are examples of life pushing through difficulty. On your next walk, pay attention to the flowers growing through cracks in sidewalks. Consider the perseverance of lost pets who travel many miles to find their beloved humans again. Perhaps you have friends or loved ones who have overcome almost insurmountable obstacles to achieve a goal, escape a horrible situation, or fight for life in the face of illness.

This week we reflect on Jesus’ experience from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, a story of faithfulness, betrayal, love, brutality, shaming, and murder. Jesus’ life told the story of God’s love and forgiveness, God’s justice and mercy. He knew that God’s tenacious love could transform us even in the midst of aggression, despair, and death. This “against the odds” kind of love he preached drew people who were looking for hope in the face of dreadful circumstances. This same love kept Jesus moving forward even as he felt political and religious momentum building against him.

Jesus’ story is unique. His belief in this kind of love propelled his mission and resulted in his death, but the story does not end there. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate “against the odds” story. Death may still be inevitable; but with God, death does not have the final word. And we are invited into this miraculous resurrection, this life with God that overcomes obstacles.

The message of Easter is that life and love persist against the odds. We can believe that the sometimes despairing world we see in front of us is not all there is. Like Jesus, we are called to move forward faithfully despite the obstacles. As the resurrection teaches us, ultimately life and love will win.



Where do you see the tenacity of God’s love in the world right now, persisting even against the odds? Perhaps you see it in nature, in the life of a friend or family member, or maybe in your own life.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” How are you being called into a ministry of resurrection? Where in your life or in the world is there a need for renewal? What is one “necessary” step you might take this week to nurture this new opportunity? Don’t let the threat of failure deter you, for our “against the odds” God accompanies you.

Steve Matthews was a youth minister for over 15 years. He is now a spiritual director, a coach working with redeveloping churches, and a Senior Associate Consultant with FaithX Strategic Missional Consulting.

—from devozine (March/April 2019). Copyright © 2019 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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