RESURRECTION: The Glad Surprise, by Howard Thurman

From Meditations of the Heart

There is ever something compelling and exhilarating about the glad surprise.  The emphasis is upon glad. There are surprises that are shocking, startling, frightening, and bewildering.  But the glad surprise is something different from all of these.  It carries with it the element of elation, of life, of something over and beyond the surprise itself.  The experience itself comes at many levels: the simple joy that comes when one discovers that the balance in the bank is larger than the personal record indicated – and there is no error in accounting; the realization that one does not have his doorkey – the hour is late and everyone is asleep – but someone very thoughtfully left the latch off, “just in case”; the dreaded meeting in a conference to work out some problems of misunderstanding, and things are adjusted without the emotional lacerations anticipated; the report from the doctor’s examination that all is well, when one was sure that the physical picture was very serious indeed.  All of these surprises are glad!

There is a deeper meaning in the concept of the glad surprise.  This meaning has to do with the very ground and foundation of hope about the nature of life itself.  The manifestation of this quality in the world about us can best be witnessed in the coming of spring.  It is ever a new thing, a glad surprise, the stirring of Life at the end of winter.  One day there seems to be no sign of life and then almost overnight, swelling buds, delicate blooms, blades of grass, bugs, insects – an entire world of newness everywhere.  It is the glad surprise at the end of winter.  Often the same experience comes at the end of a long tunnel of tragedy and tribulation.  It is as if a man stumbling in the darkness, having lost his way, finds that the spot at which he falls is the foot of a stairway that leads from darkness into light.  Such is the glad surprise.  This is what Easter means in the experience of the race.  This is the resurrection!  It is the announcement that life cannot ultimately be conquered by death, that there is no road that is at last swallowed up in an ultimate darkness, that there is strength added when the labors increase, that multiplied peace matches multiplied trials, that life is bottomed by the glad surprise.  Take courage, therefore:

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

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