“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” Matthew 28:6 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11: 25-27
Yes, it’s weeks after Easter in 2022 and the time we celebrate and talk about Jesus’ resurrection. But it’s not just at Easter that the resurrection is important. It’s ALL the time for Christians, mostly because it gives us hope.
It was 2004 and I had some very difficult losses in a very short period of time. My mother-in-law died unexpectedly in April, our daughter went off to college six hours away in August, and my mother died in September. In August, I began to have bouts of anxiety that initially lasted a few minutes and began to increase rather rapidly. The sweating, rapid heart rate, and pounding in my head ate away at my ability to concentrate and do tasks that usually came easily to me. Within a month, I was coming unraveled and had trouble picking out clothes to wear to work each day or making a decision about anything.
I had no idea what was happening to me; yet I knew exactly what was happening to me. I saw a counselor and a psychiatrist who prescribed some medication to help me function. Unfortunately, the meds made me worse, so we tried another medication, but the anxiety, confusion, and depression deepened. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was having what most people would call a “nervous breakdown.” Eventually after several months, I could no longer think straight, dress myself, or put rational thoughts together, so I took a leave of absence from work. I just wanted to crawl under the covers and not come out.
During this time, my husband cried many tears and he, along with many others, prayed for correct medication to stabilize me and good therapy to talk through the anxiety and depression. My mind was so mixed up that trying to read the Bible was like trying to read a foreign language I didn’t understand, so I relied heavily on God answering the prayers of others. Just before Christmas, my family doctor prescribed medication that began to make a difference. A psychiatrist who was very knowledgeable about early Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases that can affect people neurologically said I didn’t fit the profile of someone who has a “breakdown”. After some additional testing, he believed I had Lyme disease that was infecting my brain and causing my symptoms and gave me a list of Lyme Literate medical doctors (LLMDs) to pursue treatment. I didn’t pursue this immediately, but eventually saw a LLMD about an hour from me, and he confirmed that I had Lyme disease and two co-infections that were definitely affecting my body and brain.
It took two and a half years to put the Lyme and co-infections into remission, involving IV antibiotics, a PICC line, many supplements, and trips to the LLMD’s office every two weeks for about nine months. And it was only the beginning of a long journey as symptoms have reappeared several times, leading back to my Lyme specialist for treatment. So, in the last 18 years, I’ve had debilitating periods of fatigue and joint/muscle aches, more meds and supplements than I can count, and several leaves of absences from work.
What kept me going through all this craziness? Hope. But what is hope? I read recently a description of hope as “desire mixed with expectation.” Hope is when I desire something that I don’t have (good health), but fully expect to receive. With Lyme disease, I had hope that I could be whole again with the proper treatment plan. That is the power of hope.
So, what does Jesus’ resurrection have to do with all of this? He gives us resurrection hope, a hope that scientific facts or rational thinking can’t explain. A hope that is based on Jesus’ power which is stronger than any human power or fact.
Martha from the Bible understood this hope. After her brother Lazarus had been dead for four days, Jesus arrived. She told Jesus if he had been there, her brother would not have died. And then said, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” (John 11:22) Even now? She still had hope four days after her brother died? Yes. She believed that Jesus could bring her brother to life again. And that’s exactly what he did!
Martha’s hope was centered on Jesus, and, as Christians, we have that same hope. It involves belief that Jesus can do the unbelievable. We have the hope of the resurrection of Jesus. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we have hope that death is defeated, as we will be resurrected with Jesus and live eternally with him. Resurrection hope is not just applicable to death, but to tapping into Jesus’ strength to overcome the effects of disease on our bodies and minds. It is also based on remembering times in the past when we had hope because of Jesus.
When I was going through that challenging time in 2004, it was difficult for me to have hope. I was scared and full of anxiety. My thoughts were scattered and reading the Bible had little meaning for me. However, somewhere distant in my mind and heart, my hope came from knowing that Jesus knew me, that he suffered with me, that he had a purpose for my struggle, and that he knew how to heal me. I’m not going to lie, there were days then, and even now, where it is difficult to find hope, especially when my body is in pain and fatigue has overtaken me. But my hope is not based on my feelings or even or my medical condition, but on a God who had the power to raise Jesus from the dead and promises me that nothing is impossible with Him.
If we believe in and follow Jesus, we know that we can endure any trial in life because of the resurrection. We also know that we can look at the sufferings of this world and be at peace, knowing one day they will all be made right. Finally, we know that all who believe in Jesus will never die but be resurrected with Him on the last day (John 11:25-26).