The Lord is Risen! Alleluia! The Church on Easter Sunday was festively decorated. Flowers were everywhere. The purple was gone. The Easter Candle was shining brightly. The "Gloria" and "Alleluia" were sung with great enthusiasm. There was joy and celebration everywhere! This is as it should be.

If only life was as neat as the Church’s liturgical seasons! We could spend six weeks in the desert and then wake up one day and be free of all the temptations, all the sin, and all the pain and suffering. We could lay all our pain at the feet of the Risen Jesus and be rid of it forever. Life isn’t that simple, however. Many times, our desert experiences last much longer than forty days. Sometimes, it seems like we spend more time in the desert than anywhere else. At times like this, it can be hard to truly celebrate the Easter season. It can be difficult to rejoice in the Risen Lord when He seems nowhere to be found. What, then, is a heart and soul to do?

It is in those days in the desert that loving and rejoicing in Jesus becomes an act of the will. We can choose to believe, choose to rejoice, and choose to love. Mother Teresa provides an incredible example of a person who continued to rejoice in the Lord for decades even though she experienced no consolation. Her faithful service provided the world with so much goodness and so much fruit, yet her own heart was hurting. She believed that God loved her even when she could not feel that love. She continued to pray and place herself in God’s presence. Mother Teresa continued to trust in the Divine will.

We can do the same. Even when we don’t feel God’s love, even when we are in the midst of pain and suffering, we can continue to pray and lay our sorrows at the feet of the Lord. We may not feel like celebrating, but we can force ourselves to focus on the wonder of the Risen Lord. Jesus loved us so much he died to save us from our sin! He rose from the dead to conquer the greatest pain life has to offer. We have the gift and the promise of eternal life! How can we not rejoice? There is hope of a brighter tomorrow. In the midst of our days in the desert that hope may be the greatest gift of all.

Copyright 2009 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur