In his book, The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel tells of his conversation with Dr. Gary Habermans, professor of theology and philosophy and author of numerous books and articles. The question Strobel posed concerned the importance of the Resurrection for Christians. He assumed he would get a stock answer about its centrality to the faith. Instead, he got much more. Habermans went into a reflective mood in which he referred to the death of his wife of stomach cancer a few years before. This is how Strobel described it:
"I sat on our porch," Habermans began, looking off to the side at nothing in particular . . . "My wife was upstairs dying. Except for a few weeks, she was home through it all. It was an awful time. This was the worst thing that could possibly happen."
He turned and looked straight at Lee Strobel. "But do you know what was amazing? My students would call me and say, 'At a time like this, aren't you glad about the Resurrection?' As sober as the circumstances were, I had to smile for two reasons," Habermans said. "First, my students were trying to cheer me up with my own teaching. And second, it worked."
"As I would sit there, I'd picture Job, who went through all that terrible stuff and asked questions of God, but then God turned the tables and asked him a few questions. I knew if God were to come to me, I'd ask only one question: 'Lord, why is Debbie up there in bed?' And I think God would respond by asking gently, 'Gary, did I raise my Son from the dead?'"
"I'd say, 'Come on, Lord, I've written seven books on the topic! Of course he was raised from the dead! But I want to know about Debbie!'"
"I think He'd keep coming back to the same question -- 'Did I raise my Son from the dead?' -- until I got His point: The Resurrection says that if Jesus was raised 2,000 years ago, there's an answer to Debbie's death, too. And you know what? If the Resurrection would get me through that, it can get me through anything. If there's a Resurrection, there's a heaven. If Jesus was raised, Debbie was raised. And I will be someday, too. Then I'll see them both" (Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, p. 241-242).
Dr. Habermans was right. The worst things are never the last things. The Resurrection proves that the world is about life, not death. Winston Churchill, I've read, planned his own funeral which took place in Saint Paul's Cathedral. He included many of the great hymns of the church, and used the eloquent Anglican liturgy. At his direction, a bugler, positioned high in the dome of Saint Paul's, intoned, after the benediction, the sound of "Taps," the universal signal that the day is over. But then came the most dramatic turn: As soon as "Taps" was finished, another bugler, placed on the other side of the great dome, played the notes of "Reveille" -- "It's time to get up, it's time to get up, it's time to get up in the morning." That was Churchill's testimony that at the end of life, the last note will not be "Taps," it will be "Reveille." Always remember: the worst things are never the last things.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas