Almost two decades ago was the classic fight of Filipino Onyok Velasco for the Olympic Boxing Gold medal. I remember waking up at three o’clock in the morning just to catch the fight live on TV. Despite the long night and the overwhelming temptation to grab a few more precious hours of sleep, I, together with other brothers in the Servants of the Word, the brotherhood I was once part of, pushed ourselves to wake up to watch the fight. There was, however, one nagging thought in my mind that time: “This better be worth it. I hope I did not wake up in vain.”
We all know what happened. Despite the valiant effort of our brave countryman, he lost a seemingly won fight in the judge’s score cards. The next day, we all nursed not only a broken heart due to disappointment but also a nagging headache due to lack of sleep.
Today, Easter Sunday, I am reminded of another fight that took place not in a boxing ring but in a mound called Calvary; of another champion who fought to the end; and a fight that likewise took place at three o’clock albeit in the afternoon. The only difference then was that my Calvary champion won the fight for me. His name is Jesus. And His message to us all who believe is this: NOT IN VAIN.
When you endure your sufferings joyfully for the sake of the Kingdom — NOT IN VAIN!
When you patiently serve God despite the seeming lack of success — NOT IN VAIN!
When you labor to plant that seed of conversion in the heart of your relative, friend or even that stranger — NOT IN VAIN!
When you humbly forgive the one who offended you yet such gesture isn’t reciprocated — NOT IN VAIN!
When you try to live righteously despite the ridicule and persecution of those who scorned at your faith — NOT IN VAIN!
Dear friend, because of Christ’s victory over sin and death, none of your efforts today are in vain. There is meaning to your suffering, hope to your dreams, consolation in your distress, and significance to your labor. Christ assures you once again that whatever it is you are going through for His sake and the sake of His Kingdom will one day be justified and rewarded, if not in this lifetime, definitely in the next.
As scriptures says: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
On the first Easter Sunday, the large stone to the tomb was not the only door that was opened. A greater and more imposing door was opened for you and me. Just as the stone was rolled over, heaven’s gates likewise swung open. And we, who have no hope of living forever, have been given our entry pass to eternal life.
All we need to do is believe and live our lives according to that belief — hopeful, courageous, victorious!
Go ahead and celebrate today! It’s Easter! And as you raise that cup of celebration, don’t hesitate to shed a tear of joy. Your life, after all, is NOT IN VAIN!
A victorious Easter to all of you!