Celebrating Easter amidst global crisis, covid-19

Adeze Ojukwu

On Sunday, April 17, Christians will mark this year’s Easter.

The yearly joyous festivity is the second most celebrated event, after Christmas in Christendom.

However, this year’s global edition will be different for several reasons.

The feast will again be observed, with tears and trepidation, amidst global crises and Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The concomitant effect of this unjustifiable war on global oil prices, food shortages and displacements have cast a huge shadow on this year’s annual commemoration.

The unfortunate war has pushed millions of populations to the precipice, with spiralling inflation, rising dollar rates and escalation of hardship, igniting protests across Europe.

This is quite unfortunate, because for three years, the world has hardly known peace and joy, due to high toll of Coronavirus on people and businesses.

Since the 2019 emergence of the deadly infection, from Wuhan, China, which spared no part of the world, millions of lives and livelihoods have been lost.

The airborne zoonotic infection, which sparked a humongous humanitarian disaster across continents and countries, has perplexed humanity and floundered medical scientists.

Sadly, it’s spread has not really abated, despite the manufacturing of vaccines, as many countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia have been excluded from accessing the lif-esaving jabs.

Despite these traumatizing challenges, Christians will still observe the historic resurrection of Lord Jesus, after a most excruciating and humiliating crucifixion on the cross of Calvary.

Most believers, will use the memorial to seek solace and comfort in God, who promised to sustain man with his peace and provisions, during creation, despite all afflictions and adversities.

Clearly, this ceremony will be devoid of its usual funfair and parades.

From all indications, it will be a very sober and somber event.

Millions of faithful, are struggling with their faith in God, while others are weary and desperately searching for divine solutions to the current troubles, that have bedevilled humans.

In verity, Christians are not spared from the world’s sufferings, but are promised hope and help in times of difficulties.

Nevertheless many believers bear a disproportionate burden of tribulations in hostile countries, such as Arab societies, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Northern Nigeria, among others according to research findings.

Generally, the tortuous death of Jesus Christ, gives a great insight into the hostilities, that have trailed Christianity, since its advent.

Hence followers of Jesus have always faced trials and temptations, as part of the Christian journey.

However God offers life and hope to the world, to those who endure these hardship and suffering for their faith.

Indisputably, the Christian faith is saddled with the paradox of pain and anguish, amidst hope of a blissful future.

Indeed the violent murder of Christ foreshadows the sufferings, that will confront believers, across cultures and communities.

Indeed, his death on the cross to save humanity from sin and its shackles, is an enigma that defies human logic.

It remains so because of his divinity. Clearly the mystery, that Christ, God incarnate, died such a sacrificial death, is the bedrock of Christianity.

For believers, his death is the only assurance for man’s salvation from sin and eternal life in heaven.

The cross is not just about bemoaning the death of Jesus nor adorning fancy crosses and crucifixes, but about the great commission to every Christian to bear one’s cross, as well as to be courageous enough to share the gospel with  unbelievers.

Issues surrounding this unique crucifixion will again resonate, as the faithful, in all parts of the world, including Nigeria, face death and danger.

The case of Leah Sharibu, who was captured and still detained by Book Haram terrorists is vivid.

The unwarranted killings of Christians by Islamic fundamentalists in Northern Nigeria and several jurisdictions is pathetic and has continued to be a global concern.

Nevertheless victims of such persecutions are undaunted, because of the assurance of God’s peace and victory over the wicked.

Late American evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, who traversed the globe, with the simple message of salvation, gave exciting reasons for this assurance.

‘God proved his love on the cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’

‘The cross shows us the seriousness of our sin, but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God. Sin is the second most powerful force in the universe, for it sent Jesus to the cross. Only one force is greater, which is the love of God. Without the resurrection, the cross is meaningless.’

Indeed Christ’s double-edged cross, epitomized by his suffering and love, represents the difficult fate of his flock.

His cross was quite heavy and burdensome, then came Simon of Cyrene to help.

Similarly, the individual cross is often arduous and dreary, as many are plagued by inexplicable calamities and natural disasters.

The world is seriously dithering with staggering economic and social calamities.

Many social services and humanitarian aids have disappeared, leaving much of humanity in dire straits.

Hence this is the time to turn to God for relief and respite.

Undoubtedly the church, propelled by the Holy Spirit, must take solace in the biblical assurance of divine justice and eternal retribution, as Israelites did when they were slaves in Egypt.

God delivered the Jews and drowned King Pharaoh and his forces in the Red Sea.

Victory is therefore assured, when believers, cast their cares at the feet of Jesus.

This hope is also captured by the comforting words of Rev Graham, who preached to millions of followers worldwide, for over 60 years.

His philosophy is exhilarating.  ‘I’ve read the last page of the Bible, it’s all going to turn out all right.’

This indeed encapsulates the message of Easter and its eternal hope for believers.

Happy Easter to all. Shalom

.Ojukwu, a fellow of Hubert  Humphrey Fellowship is a journalist and publisher. She wrote this article as part of efforts , towards boosting the global campaign against persecution of Christians in Nigeria and other nations. Kindly send feedback to [email protected] com

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