Life is full of death. Physical death is the most obvious, but there are many others: the death of a dream, plans, and expectations. Moving, leaving your home, and community is a death. A job and career can be terminated. Marriages may end, breakups happen, children leave, and friendships fail. Pets, loved ones, and finally we ourselves die. Death is a killer, but it can also enable us to truly live our best life.
In 2017, I was diagnosed with cancer stage 4. The 5-year survival rate is 18%. There was a strong good chance I would physically die much sooner than I ever expected. Other deaths happened from the start. My plans vision for my future flatlined. My sense of control collapsed. I lost my job and many friendships. My advancing church ministry came to an abrupt end. I may or may not be alive in five years, but cancer was already killing me.
More than three years since my diagnosis, I can testify that a multitude of good and glorious new things have happened since my cancer journey started. I have grown and become more like the person God created me to be. I have new and greater love, faith, peace, joy, and hope. I have discovered new ministry opportunities and purpose. I've reconnected with friends and made new ones. God has blessed my marriage. I'm more alive than ever!
Without God, cancer would have brought only death. But with God, specifically my faith in Jesus Christ, all of the deaths I've experienced have resulted in even greater life. Just days after my diagnosis, I heard Jesus speak words he spoke 2,000 years ago.
"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?" (John 11:25-26)
Jesus reminded and reassured me that I need not fear death. Cancer might destroy my body, but it could never take away my life. For believers in Jesus, there is only life. My physical death would result in even greater life, eternal life. "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." (2 Corinthians 5:1)
By his death on the cross, Jesus purchased for me the ultimate life insurance policy: "Jesus Life." He covered me. I needed only to believe.
Jesus, The Resurrection and the Life, also enables us to deal with all the other deaths we experience in our life. Here's something essential to grasp. Jesus said "I am the the resurrection and the life," not "I was" or "I will be." He said, "I am." In other words, resurrection is a present reality. It's something we experience now as well as anticipate in the future. For a believer in Jesus, resurrection starts whenever you put your faith in Jesus.
Jesus Christ's resurrection brings new life into everything cancer has killed, and all that has long been dead. God will give you new dreams, visions and new purposes. He will bless you with new places, friends, and intimacies with God. You will experience new healing, mercies, and miracles. God may do for you what he did for Job, "the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before" (Job 42:10).
God's word proclaims, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Behold I am doing a new thing. Can you not perceive it? “ (Isaiah 43:19). God is doing a new thing everyday in your life. Perhaps cancer happened, or whatever happened happened, so that you could see God's resurrection power at work in you life. Look with eyes of faith and see God at work!
Easter Sunday is a day to celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the dead. What a glorious day it is! Every day is an opportunity for you to experience Jesus' resurrection power in your life. Scripture promises us, "if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his" (Romans 6:5).
Jesus gave his life on the cross and rose from the dead so that by believing in him you can live your best life. He said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). In other words, abundant life. With faith in Jesus, you can live your best life even while you're experiencing death.
What has died in your life? How have you experienced resurrection? Where are you experiencing resurrection now? Where would you like to experience it in your life?