Sometimes living is really hard for me. Some days the best I can do to cope 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 that 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. 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 that’s probably true… but I just don’t know anymore. Things are still moving, but nothings 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 extra spiritual. So I know I’m supposed to deal with it. I know I’m supposed to stay passionate, and I repeat the Christian phrases to myself, that there’s “meaning in the mundane,” that God “moves in mysterious ways,” and He’s “working behind the scenes.” I know I gotta keep going, because I’m mature and godly and faithful and steadfast and I WILL PERSEVERE!!! Wow, just, amen. I preach to myself whatever forced cliches 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’ll eventually get what I want, get where I want to be. 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’s read her bible, so she knows that eventually, one day in the future God is going to come back and make everything good, and all God’s people are going to come back to life and have the best resurrection party. Everyone knew this—it was a promise from God. They were all waiting for it, hoping for it. So she knew: she shouldn’t complain and just keep on going, standing strong, waiting for the better things to come. 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 shows up, and Martha gives Him her grown-up superChristian response, letting Him know that she’s going to keep looking forward and going strong, waiting for the coming blessings. 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 hear these words of Jesus, and I feel Him asking me, What are you so looking forward to? Is there something more you’re looking for, something more you need to finally find life? 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 and make things better. Resurrection is finding life in Him. 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 name, 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 Father, 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. God always does good things, He always will. He’s a good God, a good Father, the Father of lights. He actually does change our circumstances, bear fruit in our lives, take 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 our joy is everlasting, because it was never really in the blessings.