Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful for our Living Hope

Following Micah’s death, I thought I would spend a lot of time at Micah’s graveside at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. It turns out I haven’t. While I know that other grieving parents feel close to their child at the gravesite, this has not been the case with Heather and me. For Micah, Lakewood Cemetery has no current significance whatsoever. He is not there; our point in going there is simply to remember him and to grieve our loss.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I am so grateful for the living hope we have in the resurrection. I am grateful for the fact that, through Christ, we will someday see Micah again. One day, Lakewood Cemetery will have significance to Micah—it will be the location from where his body rises and meets his Savior. In 1 Peter 1:3, Peter says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

In the book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul is encouraging the church at Thessalonica not to grieve as unbelievers do, those who have no hope. Why? “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17.

Similarly, in John 6: 39, 40, Jesus tells his disciples, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” In a recent sermon, Pastor John Piper notes that the Greek word for “nothing” in verse 39 is unusual in that it is a gender-neutral word. Based upon the context, it appears that Jesus used this specific word to indicate that He will lose nothing of us and raise us in our bodies.
Jesus cares about our bodies, even Micah’s little body, and will raise him up, as he died, on that last day.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul describes the significance of our resurrection. “…For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts o the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?

Pastor Tim Keller interprets the phrase “death is swallowed up in victory” to mean that the resurrection does not merely end suffering, though it does that. Tim Keller, The Problem of Evil and Suffering. The “swallowing up” of death means that everything sad, everything horrible, everything heinous will be “brought up” into the resurrection. In the resurrection, Jesus will use everything about sin, death and evil to make the resurrection better. The resurrection will not merely be compensation for evil, death and suffering, but restoration. While I have no sense, at this time, as to how Micah’s death will be “swallowed up” in Christ’s victory, it is our hope in the restorative power of the resurrection that keeps us going.

About the resurrection, Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “I believe like a child that sufferings will be healed and made up for, smoothed over, that the whole offensive comedy of human contradictions will disappear like a pitiful mirage, a vile concoction of man's Euclidean mind, feeble and puny as an atom, and that ultimately, at the world's finale, in the moment of eternal harmony, there will occur and be revealed something so precious that it will suffice for all hearts, to allay all indignation, to redeem all human villainy, all bloodshed; it will suffice not only to make forgiveness possible, but also to justify everything that has happened...” Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamozov. Page 235-236, cited by Keller.

We are so grateful for this living hope in the resurrection. We can go on living in the hope that Lakewood Cemetery will prove, someday, to be a significant place for our little Micah.

1 comment:

  1. Cory and Heather,
    Just wanted to let you know that you are in our thoughts and prayers! Micah is always with me in my thoughts and heart! I pray for peace today and strength. Thank you again for sharing your journey! Have a good day!

    ~~~Chris and Angie Carey (Angie)