Life, Death, and Resurrection
Jesus’s life here on Earth promised many things: God’s love and forgiveness for us, God’s care for the poor and needy, God’s purpose for us in this lifetime, and so much more, including resurrection after His death on the cross. Could there be a more horrendous death than dying on the cross? But that was not the end of the story. Jesus was resurrected two days later into eternal life. And that life after death is God’s promise to us all.
But I think there is so much more to this story than Jesus’s resurrection. I believe that God is promising us here that no matter what we suffer, no matter what we have to endure during our lives here on Earth, there will be a new life for us on the other side of each challenge. So, whether our challenges and pains are big or little, once we have adapted to, surrendered to the challenge that is in our lives, like Jesus did in Gethsemane, we will find a new life incorporating whatever the challenge was to teach us. For me, the biggest problem/challenge of my life was Hank’s, my husband’s illness, lymphoma. After he was diagnosed, he was treated with chemotherapy. Four or five months later he was declared cancer-free. Then two months after that, he began to have the same symptoms again. And in another month—nine months after he was diagnosed with lymphoma–he was back in the hospital with the cancer raging.
By this time, all I want to do was to go to bed, pull the covers over my head and forget this horror in my life. What the Lord said to me was this: “If I can just hold all possible outcomes equally, well, then….” I had already become pretty good at surrendering to the little things that came unwanted into my life like a phone call that interrupted me or the traffic jam that slowed me down when I was in a hurry, and more. It took me a few days, but I did surrender to what the Lord said to me. And, a few days later, I was given a gift of faith so great that I felt like I was standing on the rock! As the days went on and a month passed, I was able to support Hank, and our adult children, and our friends through this difficult passage.
And as we called in hospice for him, I was still saying to myself: “Well, there may be fewer possibilities now, but that doesn’t mean that death is the only possibility.” Ten days later he passed away. After the memorial service I dropped into my grief. I never resented his death, but I did miss him a lot.
The next year I was able to finish the course in spiritual direction that I had taken a leave from when Hank got sick. And the Lord surprised me with two things. First, He introduced me to a 20-year “course” in learning how to love other people. Trips to Haiti twice, to Mexico twice, a year spent as an interviewer at Crisis Assistance Ministry, many books on racism and white privilege—all this and more has broken down any prejudice or judgment of other people I had and opened up my heart to express God’s love.
Secondly, He suggested that I take Spanish lessons. After a year of lessons, my Spanish tutor asked that I write a paragraph in Spanish each week. At first, I wrote about everything in my life, but soon all I wanted to write about was leading the spiritual life. By the time I moved to Charlotte from California in 2008, I was launching a bilingual blog. But, nine months later, my tutor fell and couldn’t be my Spanish editor anymore. So, now I just had my English Language blog. Being a writer was nothing I ever expected to do, but this was the life our Lord planned for me. Now, I am so fulfilled by the writing I do. I live at peace in this world because of all the healing the Lord has given me and all the work that I do in His name. I see everything now 1)from the eyes of a spiritual director: How do I, how do we, live this life in Christ? and 2)from the eyes of God who loves the whole human race who were all made in His image (Genesis 1:27).
In all circumstances in my life, I have found that there is life after death in small challenges and in this huge one. And that is the promise of the cross: that a new life will arise for each of us as we accept the lessons of the small and large challenges we encounter. For life on this planet is not supposed to be free of stress and grief. It is, however, always being renewed and offering new growth to us, if we will but follow Him. Amen.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.
Questions to ponder over the week: Have I experienced God’s grace of a new life after the challenges of my life? Do I surrender to what is happening in my life and, then, look for the lesson that the challenge is offering me? What would I have to give up in order to surrender to what is happening in my life?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who surrender to the challenges and even deaths I our lives. May we follow Christ in our lives as we discover the lessons He is offering us.
See more blog posts and offerings at patsaidadams.com.
Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts every month. 3.14.22’s is entitled “Our Lives as We Follow Jesus.” Sign up to receive these as monthly emails at the website.