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Hope of Resurrection

In 1995 my wife, Debbie, had the flu. When it didn't go away as quickly as it should have, we went to the hospital for tests. The first sentence I remember that the doctor uttered to Debbie was, "You've got some serious problems here."

My heart sank into my stomach, and both turned instantly to water. I had to sit down. Little did I know that my belief in Jesus' resurrection was about to be severely tested by the sting of pain and grief. Debbie was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Four months later, at the age of 43 years, she passed away just after we celebrated our twenty-third wedding anniversary. I had lost my best friend….

During Debbie's suffering, I regularly took refuge in the truth of Jesus' resurrection. It had been my major research area for 25 years, and I appreciated a student who asked, "What would you do now if Jesus hadn't been raised from the dead?"

I knew that the resurrection had a historical, theoretical side, but I wasn't fully aware of its practical power….

Jesus' bodily resurrection occupies the very center of the Christian faith. After he died on the cross to pay for our sins, Jesus was raised from the dead. He appeared to many people in his physical body that was now immortal….

How did all this help me while Debbie was dying? I imagined what God might say to me in response to my questions about Debbie. He would ask me, "Gary, did I raise my Son from the dead?"

"Of course you did, Lord," I would respond. "But why is Debbie dying?"

"Gary, did I raise my Son from the dead?" the question would come again.

"Yes, Lord, but…"

"Gary, did I raise my Son from the dead?"

I imagined God repeating the same question until I got his point. There was an answer to Debbie's suffering, even if I didn't know it. If Jesus has been raised, then I can trust that Debbie will be raised someday too.

It was sufficient to know that because of Jesus' resurrection, and because Debbie and I belong to Jesus, then we will be together again—for all eternity!

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