Monday, February 4, 2019

Raising the Dead

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8—9

Are you familiar with the meme that showed up in late December of a sledgehammer violently smashing the year “2018?” For many it was not a good year. Out with the old, and the sooner the better. 

My 2018 was no better—long, drawn-out, filled with hard times and heartache.  Not that there weren’t times of respite, and hands held out from those who compassionately chose to walk with me during the darkest times, and the steady voice of Jesus, reminding, “I’m still here. Right here. And I’m not going anywhere.” 

But instead of vigorously knocking 2018 out into the vast graveyard of spent years, I left it limping, sometimes crawling, over the finish line into 2019. … And then found out that 2019 did not necessarily hold out a promise of better times. There were more sorrows to come.

That’s why I love this passage of Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:8—9. The author, Paul, doesn’t candy-coat life. There are hard times. There are times when you may not believe you will make it through. Times when despair is overwhelming and hope seems like a distant memory.

Have you felt the “sentence of death” in your heart? For yourself or a loved one? It is crushing. Suddenly everything that used to be important loses its meaning. And you realize the people you love can be easily taken away. It is hard to breath. It is impossible to pray. You feel the grasp of death, and it is terrifying.

That is what Paul is talking about. But here is the good news. Through this horror, we can still rely on God. If we seek the power within ourselves to make it through, we will come up wretchedly empty. But if instead, we turn to God, or maybe more accurately we grasp onto God’s already outstretched hand, then we find an eternal place of harbor. 

Here is my favorite part of these verses, “we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” The God we take hold of, or rather who takes hold of us, “raises the dead.” If you are feeling the “sentence of death,” if you are surrounded by its stench, and terror, then remember this—God raises the dead.

In this life. Now. Here. He raises our dead hearts. 

He gives us the hope and mercy we need to get up. And in the next life, he raises us. Period. We have a God, who at great cost to himself, reaches out to us, to raise us from the dead.


Sara Nelson O'Brien is the author of 

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All photos are courtesy of

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