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Europe Field Story

Waiting on the Resurrection

" If God could turn the cross, a humiliating and horrendous method of execution, into a means of salvation for the whole world, then surely, He can bring life out of the tragedies we face."

I’ve been thinking about death, the death of two men to be precise. One, here in France, on February 11 of this year. A husband and a father to several children, some too young to fully grasp that their daddy is never coming back: he took his own life. 

One of my teammates had met with him and his wife just two days earlier. There had been difficulties, but no one saw this coming. No note. No goodbye. Just gone. I don’t know what he was going through, but I can only imagine the despair he must have felt to see ending his life as the best option.

The other is a man born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. Some of His own people decided He should die, and He let them kill Him despite never having wronged anyone. He gave up His life, because He knew it was the only way to give you and me, and even those who wanted to get rid of Him, an opportunity to have real life. Life with God, in God, both now and forever.  

I thought I knew the story of this man’s death pretty well, but something new jumped out at me the last time I read it. 

When Jesus died, His disciples saw their hopes of a triumphant Messiah dashed. Those responsible for His death thought they had finally solved the “problem” who was threatening their status quo.

Yet there was at least one person that day who saw past the cross. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” said one of the criminals crucified alongside Christ. Or as my French Bible puts it, “when you come to reign.”*

Even as Jesus hung dying, this man recognized Him as Messiah and King. He knew that death was no match for the Lord of life! 

There were just three days between His crucifixion and resurrection, three days that must have felt like an eternity to those who had lost their brother, son, teacher, and friend. But Sunday rolled around, and the stone was rolled away, revealing an empty tomb and a risen Lord. 

Death? Defeated. Resurrection? Reality.

If God could turn the cross, a humiliating and horrendous method of execution, into a means of salvation for the whole world, then surely, He can bring life out of the tragedies we face. That doesn’t mean we see it right away. It takes that thing called "faith" to see past the cross to the empty tomb. To believe that God is really on His throne, and that Jesus is sitting at His right hand. To trust that resurrection will come even when our circumstances cry, “Never!” 

The same God whose Son died, whose death the world interpreted as failure, takes the losses—the deaths—we all experience: Covid 19, a child graduating and leaving home, taking a new job and leaving friends behind, a loved one’s dying, and, if we let Him, longs to bring resurrection and its attendant hope to us and those around us.

Faith, sometimes easy, often difficult, is trusting that death doesn’t have the last word and that our God who is the God of the living, will bring light and life to the darkness we experience, the deaths occurring all around us (and sometimes in us or to us.)

“He is risen!” we say boldly, celebrating His resurrection. “He is risen indeed!” we respond, affirming our faith even while we may not feel it.

Two men’s death has been on my mind. One is inexplicable, a tragedy for all concerned. The other, while still a mystery, carries a larger truth we need to hear again and again. And again.

“He is risen.” “He is risen, indeed.”

*Luke 23:42

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