Someway, somehow, someday we’re all going to die. And your spouse or your children or a loved one at that moment will take you to the mortuary where the undertaker will do his best to prepare you for burial. You’ll be dressed up and cleaned up and made to look semi-natural but, make no mistake, you’ll still be dead. Then they will take you in to the church or the chapel for the funeral service where someone will, hopefully, say some nice things about you. People will cry. They’ll talk about how much they’re going to miss you. They’ll sing some songs and say some prayers. And, at the end of it all, the box will be closed and your body will be lowered into the ground. I don’t say all this to be morbid. I’m just stating the facts. All of you are going to do some time in a box. Every person who has ever lived has died eventually. That’s the report from the cemetery. Even Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, died again. But, and this is a huge but. But, death doesn’t have the last word. Because of Jesus, because of the resurrection, we’re not going from the land of the living to the land of the dying. No, we’re going from the land of the dying to the land of the living.
I know it’s hard to find hope when you’re watching your husband waste away right in front of your eyes as he succumbs to the effects of cancer. I know it’s hard to buy in when your marriage is in the toilet. I know it’s hard to believe when you’re sitting in the nursing home; alone, afraid, and in pain. But notice what Martha says to Jesus in the midst of losing her beloved brother:
21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” – John 11:21 & 22
Even now. Did you catch that? Even now…when hope is gone. Even now…when death feels like it’s winning. Even now…when you struggle with your faith. Even now..when it feels like you can’t go on. Yes, even now there is hope.
Although Martha struggled with the death of her dear brother and the timing of Jesus, she knew that He could do something. She knew that He had the power to somehow change the circumstances. Do you believe that? Do you believe that, even now, our Lord can do something?
On February 27, 1991, during the Desert Storm conflict, a woman by the name of Ruth Dillow received the worst phone call of her life. She was notified that her son, Private First Class, Clayton Carpenter, had stepped on a land mine, killing him instantly. Her world was turned upside-down. For the next three days she cried, she mourned, she grieved. All efforts to comfort her proved unsuccessful. Her life was in shambles. But, after three days, the phone rang again. On the other end of the line was a familiar voice, “Mom, it’s me. I’m alive.” At first she thought it was some sort of cruel joke. Maybe in the midst of her grief she was hallucinating. But as the conversation continued, she realized that the voice on the phone was, indeed, her son. Turns out, there had been a terrible mistake. Her son wasn’t dead after all. Later Ruth Dillow laughed and cried and rejoiced as the worst day of her life was followed three days later by the best day of her life.
And so it was for Jesus. A day of darkness, gloom, and grief, was followed, three days later, by the best day—the day the tomb was found empty. The day that death died. And a day that we can all point to for assurance. The resurrection of Jesus Christ means that we don’t have to fear death. Please keep that in mind when it seems as though death is winning. EVEN NOW…there is hope!