I didn't think this book applied to me. I am not grieving the loss of a loved one and I haven't experienced that loss for myself yet (which after twenty one years of life is a huge blessing). But my small group was reading it so I took it chapter by chapter until I was so excited for the end that I didn't put it down.
The tragedy that inspired this book happened at Christmas. It is not a traditional Christmas story, it does not chronicle the birth of Jesus, but it reminds us of the hope we receive each Christmas, and more so, the victory we walk in because of Easter. Lusko writes "Christmas exists so there could be an Easter, so we could live with hope and die without fear".
Living with hope for the promise of Heaven. For the promise that it will all be restored back to the way God created it to be...
I am intrigued by the Garden of Eden. I crave to know what that perfect place God intended for us was like, I am desperate to see what life was supposed to be, and I am eager to experience the fullness of Heaven, so much greater than Eden, one day. But until then I, along with the rest of humanity, am caught somewhere in the middle between Eden and Heaven. Lusko called this waiting period Saturday, followed by the promise that Sunday is on it's way. He repeated that throughout the book: Sunday is on it's way.
When I think about the way things in our world are right now, so far from what God had intended for us, I find myself becoming angry. I was encouraged when Lusko acknowledged this anger: "I have hope, but I'm not happy about it. What I have discovered, though, is that neither is God. He's not happy about it. He's furious. Not about hope, but that we would need it."
God's not happy about the way things are either. That's why he promised it will all be restored on Sunday.
Until then, we're stuck on Saturday.
Saturdays full of death and cancer and incurable diseases.
Saturdays full of terrorism and threats and oppression.
Saturdays full of violence and massacres and shootings.
Saturdays full of abuse and anxiety and addictions.
Sunday is on it's way.
So we hope. Hope is a beautiful word. So are faith and trust. I think sometimes as Christians we fall into the trap of thinking that saying these words is enough to fill the empty spaces of our hearts that are longing for Sunday.
No, friends, these words are empty without any belief in what Jesus already did. Hope and trust and faith are useless unless we hold onto the victory that has already been won.
We have victory over death because Jesus rose again.
We have victory over terrorism because Jesus is the King of Kings.
We have victory over violence because Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
We have victory over our past because Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor.
That is what was promised to us. The victory was accomplished on the cross, which is why we celebrate Easter. But the promise of these things - that is what we received when Jesus was born. That is why we celebrate Christmas, because the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6-7 was fulfilled exactly as God said it would be.
I was nervous for this Christmas, afraid that violence or terrorism might try to ruin this special set aside for family and friends and love. Until I finished this book and quickly realized that Christmas is that much more powerful in spite of the atrocities on the news every night (and it really does get worse every night). Christmas could never be tarnished by anything Saturday has to offer, because Christmas is the reminder the promise that Sunday is on it's way.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders,
and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever, the zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.