The Promise of Easter: Thriving in a Difficult World

Photo by: Cortney White on Unsplash


“Bring light to others when they despair, and find those who can light your way when you feel lost. Work together to weave a story that is worthy of living—one that is full of convictions and beliefs of how you make sense of those things that matter most.”

Pamela King, Light in Darkness (2020)

Easter marks the celebration of new life and hope for the future. It is a season where we can find peace and hope from knowing that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. In the Christian tradition, Easter invites us to reflect on the “betrayal, arrest, torture, and death” of a man who preached and embodied love and peace. Jesus experienced suffering—an inescapable part of what it means to be a human. Of course, death isn’t the whole story. After all, it wouldn’t be Easter without the resurrection. This story of sacrifice and redemption provides us with a narrative that God is working in this world, even during times of great distress and difficulty.

Can We Thrive Through Difficulty?

But is it possible for humans to thrive in the face of suffering and trauma, in the face of so much trouble in the world? Our research at the Thrive Center confirms that humans can and do thrive through tremendous difficulties. One of the greatest resources for thriving is our faith and belief systems. Knowing that we are part of something greater than ourselves fuels our commitments and directs our purpose. It takes us outside of ourselves and spurs us into action. In this way, faith and spirituality promote thriving!

Contributing to a Flourishing World

Now more than ever, we need purposeful living. Real thriving occurs when we are contributing to a flourishing world. A person who thrives understands that life isn’t just about me, but about us. We cannot thrive in isolation. We must enable those around us to thrive presently and into the future by using our unique skills and gifts, leaning into our passions, and taking on projects that transform our communities and world for the better. When the events of the world feel frightening and overwhelming, humans need each other as sources of strength. In fact, psychological science tells us that people need to feel known, supported, safe, and loved in order to thrive.

This might mean micro changes in the way we interact with others—whether it’s something as simple as practicing kindness. Commit to doing five small acts of kindness. Kindness allows us to better understand God’s love for us and improves our relationships with others. It makes our communities better places to live.

Finding the Light in Darkness

Looking back at a post I wrote during the early days of the pandemic, I realized that the message of finding light in darkness feels more relevant than ever. Change the pandemic to global, environmental, and economic crises, and the message that our beliefs and the ways in which we make meaning of our lives is worth remembering. We are part of a greater story.

As we approach Holy Week, I invite you to enter into the labyrinth of lamentation and loss. Dare to connect the despair and disruption of Holy Week to the realities of our day. Pray with passion and compassion for ourselves and those whose suffering is real. Attune to and regulate your emotions. Reach out to others for support if you are struggling. Keep your eyes on the cross because Sunday is coming, and be reminded that you are loved and empowered to thrive for God’s purposes.

About the Author

Pamela Ebstyne King

Pamela Ebstyne King

Pamela Ebstyne King, PhD, is the Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science at the School of Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy in Fuller Theological Seminary. Her primary academic interests are applied research at the intersection of human thriving and spiritual development. Dr. King's work combines theology, empirical research, and community engagement to further understand what contexts and settings enable all people to thrive.

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