My church is currently in a series called “Resurrection Stories” in which we’re going through each of the non-Jesus stories of resurrections (or “resuscitations”—whatever) found in the Bible. It is, after all, still Easter.
A few weeks ago, as we were talking about Elisha raising the Shunnamite’s son, our pastor pointed out that most of these resurrection stories seem to center more on the people around the dead person than the dead person themselves. And so, in a sense, these resurrections are more for the people affected by death than the one dead; the ones that “receive” the true resurrection power are mostly those around the resurrected one.
Further, as he pointed out, most all of these people that “receive” the truest benefits of these resurrections are women—the most alienated and disempowered group throughout world history.
In fact, when the writer of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is listing out the notable and powerful things that were done by faith throughout redemptive history, it says specifically “Women received their dead by resurrection”.
Not just “people” or even “godly people”, but women.
Resurrection life seems to come most often and most easily to those who have been robbed of earthly fullness of life. Resurrection power seems to come to the powerless. Supernatural resurrection seems to come to those who have most often tasted death.
A Hebrews 11 Rabbit Trail (From Which We’ll Return with a Rabbit)
The aforementioned Hebrews chapter 11 ends on a really weird note. The writer spends almost a chapter listing out amazing, wonderful things that people have done and received “by faith”. These are positive and encouraging stories where people “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness….”
Who wouldn’t love that?
But then there’s a weird shift in the same paragraph where it says that by faith, “Others were tortured,… suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword; they went about… destitute, persecuted, tormented.”
And the only statement between this list of “good” things and “bad” things is that statement about women receiving their dead in Resurrection. It’s unclear which list that statement is supposed to be a part of.
It seems that Resurrection lies at the intersection of that which is most beautiful, powerful, and victorious about the Christian life, and that which is darkest, most painful, and terrifying.
This is what I saw in Guatemala.
I said last week, when summarizing my time there, that I didn’t go to the slums to “give them” anything they did not already possess. If anything, I came back to the states feeling pity on us.
Sure, those in the slums of Guatemala are “poor” in the things that the West often considers of most “usefulness” or worth, but when it comes to those things of ultimate value and highest worth, they are the richest people I’ve ever met. They have resources experience, and knowledge we need for more than we could give them.
We are the poor ones—the deprived. They are the wealthy—the privileged. It seems to be that the most “death” you experience in this life, the more Resurrection you see as well.
As I said in that return post, this is not to say that we wealthy Americans can’t experience Resurrection power in this life. It just means it’s more difficult for us.
But take heart! Death comes in all shapes and shades. The doorway to Resurrection life seeps into our lives in many possible ways.
God knows our limits and if we live long enough, he bring us to them. Even those “sufferings” that seem (and might very well be) trivial are not to be disregarded simply for their triviality. Press into them. Don’t artificially minimize them. Resurrection is there.
Go to where Resurrection is. Join in relationship with those in Guatemala. Live in the places of brokenness and injustice. Actually get to know those whose daily deaths are worse than the ones you’ve ever known.
Learn the disciplines of death, denial, and “lowering” of oneself by fasting, serving, and listening in prayer. You can bring a sort of “death” into your own daily existence—a death through which you can find life.
Bring your soul as low as it can go, pressing deep into the heart’s soil, praying to strike the water of gracious, Resurrection life. That sort of Life is there for the taking, but it begins at the lowest points of life and humanity and trickles upward.
And as we receive it from those who’ve drank more deeply than we most “naturally” do, we learn how it tastes, and so can offer it to those around us as well.
Resurrection doesn’t come without death, but be encouraged by those who have felt death’s sting at their deepest depths, and have come out singing of Life.
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