The Laughter of the Redeemed
By Pastor Johnny R. Almond
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
because God raised Jesus from the dead.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead.
1 Peter 1:3, 6 NLT
During WWII, an 18-year-old German named Jurgen Moltmann was drafted to serve in Hitler’s army. Assigned to an anti-aircraft battery, he saw the horror of fellow soldiers incinerated in fire bombings. After surrendering to the British, he spent three years in prison camps. There he saw how other prisoners “collapsed inwardly”, gave up all hope, sickened for lack of it, and some died.
Jurgen Moltmann had not grown up as a Christian. An American chaplain gave him an Army-issue New Testament and Psalms, signed by President Roosevelt. He read the Psalms and found something he desperately needed—hope. He became convinced that God was with him, even behind the barbed wire. Transferred to a camp run by the YMCA, he learned Christian beliefs and experienced accepting love, being treated better than by the German army.
Moltmann found new life in the Gospel of Christ, after seeing only death in WWII. And there’s more to his story—the risen Christ was leading him into an unexpected future. After the war, he became a Christian theologian and focused on two ideas coming out of the story of Jesus and his personal story—God is with us in our suffering; and God is leading us to a better future.
“Easter Sunday”, this theologian wrote, “is the beginning of the laughter of the redeemed.” Expressing the significance of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, he wrote “God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him. Easter is God’s protest against death. God is not satisfied with the way the world is today, and he intends to make all things new.”
While I was serving as a chaplain at Arlington National Cemetery, I read an anonymous poem on the cover of Guideposts I will forever remember—
Lift up your hearts, ye sorrowing ones; And be ye glad at heart.
For Calvary and Easter Day—Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day,
Were just three days apart.