Death becoming a means for life—it seems like an oxymoron. Yet that story is embedded in the natural order of the universe, as well as in the story of Christianity.

As we approach a full year of isolation and lockdowns across Canada and around the world, nearly all of us have felt the bitterness of loss. Yet as with the theme of death in Scripture, this period of darkness is not without mercy.

Many of the articles in this issue touch on the sudden lack of control that has shaken our perceived realities. Our illusions have been ripped away, leaving us with a more accurate view: we were never in control to begin with.

This pandemic has made us feel small and empty. Recently, I stood in a forest with a friend, tears collecting on the edge of my mask as I grappled with my utter helplessness to stop the pain around me.

This is a mercy and a chance for virtue to grow, my friend reminded me. It is a good thing to crumple before God, knowing we have nothing to give. It can be a relief to know we cannot offer Him anything He doesn’t already have. A relief, if we can toss our pride aside long enough for this to sink in.

Our natural state is one of emptiness and vulnerability.

This is the life we signed up for as Christians: to bury our power and become empty containers. And once empty, to be filled with strength and holiness not our own.

This issue offers a range of reflections on finding hope stemming from hard places. Sarah Emtage’s poem, “Yield” is a poignant reminder of our need to surrender to death in order to produce life. Lisa Hanash describes how the pandemic forced her to find new rhythms in a challenging time.

In our feature interview, Robbie Down talks about the need for community in creativity and worship, and the ways habits such as liturgies have shifted his view of God’s sanctifying work in us.

In the Flipside, Mike Gordon provides insight into how we can respond to death, releasing us from the pressure of feeling like we need to have all the answers. Jesse Kane tells the story of his church’s growth and restored unity even amid the challenges of online gatherings.

Death is terrible, and I think God hates it more than we do. But He has chosen to use death as an instrument for our life and salvation. Mercy tucked within grief and loss. Our prayer is that the Lord will give us each the eyes to see this.