You probably know the story, and you might even be able to tell it in your sleep. But the truth is, Easter is perhaps the most personal holiday on our calendar. Before Jesus, there was no hope. All of the hardships and uncertainties of life had no answer.

But God sent Jesus to live a perfect life in a broken world, pay the ultimate sacrifice that erased our debt, and rose victoriously from the dead to give us eternal hope. No matter what global or personal trial you face, there’s victory in Jesus. Don’t let this Easter be just another holiday. Make it personal and find hope for whatever you’re facing.


A man desperate for work agreed to spend six months miles from shore on a tiny fishing hut—lighting lamps to attract fish. His only human contact occurred once a week when supplies were delivered. Disaster struck when the hut’s mooring broke and he drifted hundreds of miles out to sea. His
hopes later sank as he watched ten ships pass and his cooking fuel ran out. Finally, after 49 days adrift, the man was spotted by a ship’s crew and rescued!
We may never be stranded in the ocean, but most of us have felt adrift, lost, and desperate for help and hope. Perhaps like Zacchaeus in today’s Scripture reading, we’re an outcast and yet somehow know Jesus is the One we need (LUKE 19:3–4). Scripture repeatedly recounts how God comes to us in our rebellion and troubles. In Eden, God finds Adam and Eve, hiding and confused (GENESIS 3:8–9). And Israel runs away again and again (PSALM 78:40), but God draws them back. Finally, Jesus, God’s ultimate Source of rescue, comes not for those who have life figured out but for those who are in a mess. Jesus “came to seek and save those who are lost” (LUKE 19:10). While we face challenges amidst the tossing seas of life, God promises to be with us in them. And hope comes as we remember that Jesus has provided our ultimate rescue—from sin and death (V. 9; EPHESIANS 2:4–8).


Where do you need God’s rescue? Where are you lost?
What would it take for you to yield to God’s rescue and help?

Dear Father, I’m out on my own, in deep trouble.
I don’t think anyone can help me. But You say You come for the lost.
I’m here. Please come.


To try to rid himself of his disappointments, a man decided to auction off his belongings on eBay. He said, “On the day all my possessions are sold, I intend to walk out of my front door with my wallet and passport and nothing else.” He planned to visit his mother before heading to the airport. “I’ll see where life takes me from there. It’s time to shed the old and in with the new!” All of us can relate to the disappointments of life. The apostle Paul encouraged the believers in Jesus in Rome to remember that Jesus’ death provided them with “peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us” (ROMANS 5:1). This divine peace empowers all believers to experience “hope [that] will not lead to disappointment” (V. 5). Moreover, it helps us face difficulties without running away from them. “Trials,” he wrote, are designed to develop “endurance . . . strength of character, and… hope” within us (VV. 3–4). God’s presence provides a settled confidence that He loves us and will empower us through the Holy Spirit (V. 5). And His love and the Spirit’s presence provide the assurance that
our trust in Him isn’t misplaced (V. 8). As believers in Jesus, rather than running from our disappointments, we can rejoice in them, knowing that God is walking with us through them.


What was your initial response to a recent disappointment?
What will help you express your confident hope in God
even when facing disappointments?

Dear God, please help me trust in You when I face the
hard and disappointing times of life.


Author Susan Cain’s research revealed that people played the happy songs on their playlists an average of 175 times but the sad songs 800 times. What is it about sad music that’s so compelling for many? Cain suggests it has to do with our hunger for longing—“joy that’s laced with sorrow. Which is often triggered when we experience something so exquisite that it seems to come to us from some other world. . . . Except it only lasts a moment, and we really want to live there for good.” Longing, Cain argues, is inseparable from passion and love, for “the place you suffer is the exact same place where you care desperately.” So instead of fearing our pain, Cain suggests that our longing can point us “in the direction of the sacred.” Cain’s insights remind me of how Paul describes how “the creation
looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay” (ROMANS 8:21). While Jesus has already defeated sin and death, we still wait for His victory to be seen in its fullness in all of creation. That day isn’t here yet. We live in hope, and “if we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it” (V. 24). But as we wait, we experience joy and hope in the longing, as the Spirit carries and strengthens us in God’s love (VV. 26–27, 39).


When have you experienced joy and sorrow simultaneously?
How can longing connect us to hope?

Precious Father, thank You for filling my heart
with longing for You and the beauty of Your kingdom.
Help that hope to anchor my heart.


George had a passion for telling others about Jesus. He organized a gospel crusade in his high school. In college, he recruited two of his friends to distribute the Bible in Mexico. George Verwer later founded the international ministry Operation Mobilization. Successful though he was, Verwer was aware of mistakes he made. In his book Messiology, he wrote, “I believe history will show that God was doing way more in the midst of our messes than we realized at the time.”
Jesus said something to Peter on the evening of the Last Supper that would affirm Verwer’s contention. About to wash Peter’s feet, Christ said, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will” (JOHN 13:7). Intriguingly, Peter’s “mess” hadn’t happened yet: “Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me” (V. 38). But it was a much bigger mess that Jesus was referring to: the sin of all mankind. The disciples didn’t know that God was doing something far greater than they realized. In living for Jesus, we may find ourselves in our own “messiology.” Even in our best work, we make mistakes, mess things up, and fall into despair. But Jesus tells His disciples, “I am the Messiah” (V. 19). That gives us real hope. We may not know what God is doing, but we should trust in who He is. He’s way more than what we understand.


What in your life is hard to understand?
How are God’s purposes confusing to you?

Dear God, please help me accept that Your ways
are not always known to me.


When Raza saw a man sweeping his street, he felt sorry for him and gave him some money. The man thanked him and asked Raza if he could pray for him. Surprised, Raza wondered how to answer, feeling conflicted but wanting to make the man happy. He consented and the sweeper prayed, giving thanks for the money and for Raza, saying “God, please show him the way, the truth and the life.” Raza was puzzled by the prayer but forgot about it. Yet six years later, “God changed my life,” he said, when he came to know Jesus as his Savior. Suddenly he understood that God had answered the sweeper’s prayer, for in Jesus Raza had found the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus told His friends on the night before He died that they would know “the way to where I am going” (JOHN 14:4). Thomas questioned how they could know the way because they didn’t know where He was going. Jesus responded: “I am the way, the
truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (V. 6). He assured them that if they knew Him, they would also know the Father (V. 7). Jesus breaks down the barriers and brings us into His Father’s presence. He’s the way to a fulfilled life; He’s the truth that sets us free; He gives us life, love, and hope.


How might God inspire you to pray for others,
perhaps even a stranger on the street? How have you
seen Him answer someone’s prayers for you?

Dear Jesus, You’re the way, the truth, and the life.
Thank You for taking me to the Father through
Your work on the cross.


Sok Ching had just recovered from Covid-19 when her aged mother took a fall. Days later, her mother died. Then her estranged husband filed for divorce and threatened to fight for custody of their young son. Sok Ching felt like she was going through a desert, totally drained of life. Where is God? she wondered. Does He know what I’m going through? She found it tough even to pray. Then Exodus 2:23–25 came to mind. The Israelites were suffering a multitude of troubles: an oppressive pharaoh, cruel slave masters, their sons were being killed. They must have asked the same question: “Where is God?” But He was there: “God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant . . . . He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act” (VV. 24–25). Though their deliverance would come forty years later, the Israelites were assured that God knew their pain and would respond. As Sok Ching read from her journal, it reminded her of the time God helped her take care of her mom, strengthened her when her husband left her, and encouraged her as a single mother. And she recalled how Jesus went to the cross for us. “It gives me hope,” she said, “knowing that God is there for me in the desert.” She could declare in confidence, “God is there. And He remembers.”


How has God helped you through tough times in the past?
How can you draw strength from His promises?

Father, You know what I’m going through, and You know my pain
and worry. I know You care for me. Help me to keep trusting in You.


Standing trial for the “crime” of writing about his nation’s unprovoked invasion of another, the journalist made his final statement. Yet he didn’t defend himself. Instead, he spoke boldly. “The day will come when the darkness over our country will dissipate,” he said, “when at the official level it will be recognized that two times two is still four; when a war will be called a war.” With irrepressible confidence, he continued: “This day will come as inevitably as spring follows even the coldest winter.” World events often seem irrevocably bleak. Lies and violence are the way of the world. It’s nothing new. A thousand years before Jesus’ crucifixion, the psalmist David wrote of the Messiah he awaited: “The kings of the earth prepare for battle; . . . against the Lord and against his anointed one” (PSALM 2:2). God merely laughs (V. 4). The rightful King would one day “break them with an iron rod” (V. 9). David wrote, “Be warned, you rulers of the earth! Serve the Lord with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling” (VV. 10–11). The arrest and crucifixion of Jesus was the worst human rights atrocity ever, yet it’s through that travesty of justice that Christ conquered sin and death and offers us hope. As sure as spring follows winter, the darkness is dissipating, fleeing before the Light of the World. “What joy for all who take refuge in him!” (V. 12).


What events tempt you to despair? Where and how
do you experience the Light of the World today?

Precious Savior, may Your light flood this dark world
and give us hope for a future with You.


In 1986, Sir David Suchet, the English actor known for playing detective Hercule Poirot, began a quest to understand the resurrection of Jesus. Wondering what would happen after he died, he began reading the book of Romans. After twenty years of careful consideration, he committed fully to believing in Jesus. “Without the resurrection there is no faith,” Suchet concluded, echoing Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Thus, he observed, what he believes “is based not only on the death, the crucifixion, of Jesus, but also on the resurrection.” The miracle of Jesus rising from the dead, Suchet said, is what gives us hope and points to Him being both human and God. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, which he’d founded and lived with for eighteen months, he was concerned over reports of division and a waning belief in the resurrection. He stated: “If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins” (1 CORINTHIANS 15:17). Not only did Jesus die and rise again, but so would His believers as well. If the church at Corinth didn’t hold on to this hope, then they would be pitied “more . . . than anyone in the world” (V. 19). When God helps us to trust that Jesus rose from the dead, we can delight in the assurance that we’ll live with Him forever. And that’s a wonderful conclusion to a worthy quest.


How does knowing that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive
give you hope and shape you in the way you live?
Why does this matter?

Risen Christ, thank You for dying on the cross and rising to new life.
I rejoice in the life I have with You.


“Who is this stranger?” A college student in Georgia (USA) asked that question when a fellow student texted him saying a DNA test showed they could be brothers. Separated by adoption almost twenty years earlier, the young man texted a reply in which he asked what name the other student had been given at birth. He immediately answered, “Tyler.” Replied the other, “Yes!!! You are my brother!” He was recognized by his name. Consider how a name plays a key role in the Easter story. As it unfolds, Mary Magdalene comes to Christ’s tomb, and she weeps when she finds His body missing. “ ‘Dear woman, why are you crying?’ Jesus asked her” (JOHN 20:15). She didn’t recognize Him, however, until He spoke her name, “Mary” (V. 16). Hearing Him say it, she “cried out, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is Hebrew for ‘Teacher’)” (V. 16). Her reaction expresses the hope and joy believers in Jesus feel on Easter morning, recognizing that our risen Christ conquered death for all, knowing each of us as His children. As He told Mary, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (V. 17). In Georgia, two reunited brothers bonded by name, have vowed to take “this relationship to the next level.” On Easter, we praise Jesus for already taking the utmost step to rise in sacrificial love for those He knows as His own. For you and me, indeed, He’s alive!


How does it feel knowing that Jesus rose again and knows you
by name? How can you know Him better?

Your knowledge of me is humbling, dear Jesus.
Thank You for the sacrificial gift of Your knowing love
and the hope of eternal life with You.


Like me, you may know exactly when you received certain wounds that left scars. A small scar on my wrist is the result of a fellow middle-school band member plowing me over in his haste. Another on my elbow is from the time a driver mistook the gas pedal for the brakes and slammed into our van. And a third comes from a surgery. Perhaps you also have mental and emotional scars from the pain of sickness, loss, or death. The wonderful, healing news is that, as the song “The Only Scars in Heaven” by Casting Crowns affirms, the only scars in heaven will belong to Jesus. In that place, we won’t be
broken or wounded. We have the hope of a life without doubts, fears, mental anguish, or physical pain. We’ll be with Jesus, made new (REVELATION 21:4). After Jesus’ death and resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and showed them the scars in His hands and side (JOHN 20:20). Thomas wasn’t there, so he doubted the news (V. 25). Jesus returned and told him to touch His scars and not “be faithless any longer” (V. 27). His doubts gone, Thomas responded, “My Lord and my God!” (V. 28). Jesus died to take our sins away. His scars identify Him as the Lamb who was slain for us (REVELATION 5:6)! We can believe and rejoice and be filled with hope, for one day He’ll hold us in His nail-scarred hands.


What emotional or mental wounds do you still bear?
How have you experienced healing through Jesus?

Dear Jesus, thank You for being scarred for me.
Help me to rejoice in You.

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