Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” – John 11:25-26
Lord, please give grace to those I stumble or offend in writing this, that they would give grace to me and what I have to say…
Sometimes living is really hard for me. Some days, the best I can do is just distract myself with random crap to make it through the day without choking on this vague sense of disappointment in my life, to just survive the emptiness. It’s the kind of day where it’s bluntly clear that there’s no soundtrack to your life, that the difficulties you’re in aren’t part of some process or journey to a bright and beautiful happy-ending, but that things just suck and that’s it. No one’s crying for you. Get over yourself… you’re not that important. It’s not necessarily that I’m depressed, though probably true, but that I just don’t know anymore. Things are still moving, but nothing’s happening. I don’t feel pain, but I don’t feel alive. I feel stuck. I feel dead.
But I’m a really good Christian, a superChristian to be accurate. I’m a pastor. So I know I’m supposed to deal with it. I know I’m supposed to stay passionate, that there’s meaning in the mundane, that God moves in mysterious ways and He is working beneath the surface where I can’t see. I know I gotta keep going, because I’m mature and godly and faithful and steadfast and I WILL PERSEVERE!!! Wow amen. So I preach to myself whatever I need to hear to deal with my circumstances, or rather my disappointment in them. God has a plan! He works all things for my good! This is not the end of the story! If He brought me in, He’ll take me through!!! My God, my God, hallelujah Jesus… Things. Are. Going. To. Get. BETTER. YES! I just gotta keep going. I need to pray more. Hope more. Believe more. I guess.
There’s a story about a woman named Martha whose brother died. She was on her knees for days, asking and expecting Jesus to come heal him. He didn’t. She was disappointed… but she’s a good Christian like me, so she kept her head up. She knows her Bible, so she knows that eventually, one day in the future, God is gunna come back and make everything good. All Jews knew this… They were all waiting for it, hoping for it. So she knew she shouldn’t complain but just keep on going, standing strong. I trust the Lord! God made a promise, to never leave me nor forsake me! Things suck now, but I know God’s going to fix this and give me everything I need! My brother is dead, but I know later I’ll be with him again! Everything will be good then, and I’ll finally be truly happy!
Jesus finally shows up, and she gives her grown-up, superChristian response, letting Him know that she’s gunna keep looking forward and going strong. But Jesus doesn’t congratulate her. Maybe I’m crazy but it feels like He rebukes her… He says to her, Martha. I am the resurrection. I am the life.
I know I’m a pastor, but I’m not here right now trying to explain to you what Jesus said to Martha. But I read these words of Jesus, and I feel Him asking me, What are you looking so forward to? Is there something more you’re looking for, something more you need? Am I not enough? I’m the promise. I’m what you’ve been waiting for. It’s Me.
“Resurrection” isn’t a promise to change your circumstances, to make things better. Resurrection is finally finding true life. It isn’t a successful career. It isn’t fruitfulness in ministry. It isn’t the church you always wanted. It isn’t marrying your sweetheart. It isn’t family reconciliation. It isn’t new friends who truly love you. It isn’t spiritual breakthrough. Your happy-ending isn’t any of those things. It’s Jesus… It’s only Jesus. Resurrection is finally filling that emptiness in life, that deadness in your soul, and Jesus is saying, It’s Me. It’s only Me. It was always Me, and it will only ever be Me. I am the Life. I am the Resurrection.
And on days like these, I lie in my bed, and the Lord helps me pray, God… You can take my friends, You can take my family, You can take my ministry, You can take my reputation, You can take my stage, You can strip me of all purpose and passion, snatch away everything I’ve ever dreamed of or looked forward to, leave me naked on the street… God, You can take my happy-ending. But Lord, just give me Yourself.
I know that in the story, Jesus says He’s going to bring Martha’s brother back to life, and He does. But for me, that’s not the point. God always does good things, He always will. He’s a good God, a good Father. He changes our circumstances, bears fruit in our lives, takes us higher and deeper than before. He loves to bless. But blessings come and go. Things get bad. Life sucks. You eventually fall into one of those days. Maybe you’ll feel like you’re dying, or maybe you literally are—but even in death, they can’t take your life, because where there’s joy, there’s life. And joy is everlasting, because it was never really in the blessings.
Photograph above by Page Resource.
Andrew Min is the Youth Pastor at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in San Jose, CA. He is currently pursuing a BA in Biblical Studies at Biola University. He loves playing basketball, watching movies, and hugging dogs.