A Panamanian Perspective on Holy Week

Since I spent nearly 30 years in Panama as a missionary, I have a perspective on Easter that I trust has taught me some valuable lessons.

First off, Holy Week in the early years (1970s-1980s) tended to be influenced by Roman Catholicism, the predominant religion in Panama. The entire week was somewhat subdued, with less emphasis on the commercial aspects of life. Good Friday was somber and solemn; television and radio stations could only play, funeral-like music, dirges, and the like. Churches had mass to commemorate the passion. There were no sports or entertainment. (After those early years, Good Friday became more “secular,” and has remained so. It is possible that some radio stations may have special solemn programming, but not the TV stations, by and large. Some of the older people, staunchly Catholic, complained, but basically the day has become a “holiday,” not a “holy day.”)

Strangely enough, Easter Sunday was pretty much business as usual. Though it was called “Domingo de Gloria,” (Sunday of Glory), there didn’t seem to be a lot of celebration of Christ’s resurrection, and folks went to the beach, had picnics, visited family, etc., pretty much like any other time when they were off work. But neither the solemnity or the frivolity seemed to touch people very deeply. The solemnity didn’t cause people to come to Christ for forgiveness of sin, and receive a Savior who would change their lives. The frivolity wasn’t Christian joy, based on the the certainty of the Risen Lord who had conquered death.

What a difference I discovered in the evangelical church! For one thing, many churches had a special Good Friday service which featured the seven last words of Christ he uttered from the cross. I took part in many of those over the years, sometimes preaching just one of the seven words, as in a joint service, and sometimes all seven. It could make for a very long service, but focusing from a theological as well as a practical perspective was helpful and challenging.

We sang songs (in Spanish) like “There is a Fountain,” and “Nothing But the Blood.” We also sang songs about the passion such as “Oh Qué Amor,” (Oh What Love), and “¿Sabes qué Murió Jesús?” (Do you Know that Jesus Died?”) this last one sung to the tune of the 1960s pop song “Sealed With a Kiss.” Beautiful, melodic songs about our Savior’s death on the cross that really touched my heart, but unknown to English-only speaking people.

Easter Sunday was always a special day in Panama. We’d sing, in Spanish of course, songs like “Low in the Grave He Lay” with volume and emotion, and hear the resurrection message delivered on that day of days.

We introduced to the church in Bethania, where we served for about 15 years, the “Sunrise Service” concept. I think some other churches already were doing it, but it was new to many of the people we’d seen come to Christ, and over time came to be one of the most popular and inspiring things we did each year. An early service, often around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m., followed by a breakfast fellowship meal, and then Sunday School, made for a glorious day in the Lord, and with His people.

I remember our first Easter in Panama, in 1978, when we met at the church on a Sunday night. It would have been March 26. Our main service was held on Sunday night at the beginning of the church plant. We sang. We prayed. I preached. At the end of the service a young man in his early 20s came forward to receive Christ. His words to me were these: “I knew there had to be more in life than what I had found, and tonight I found it in Jesus Christ.” Christ arose! He lives! He is risen. He is risen indeed!




Five Movie Resurrections and Why They Matter

In honor of Easter and our celebration of the resurrection, I have decided to compile five of my favorite film resurrections. Now, some of you more pious and holy readers might be shaking your heads right now wondering if you should continue reading this, with its borderline-sacrilegious-sounding premise. I assure you, no sacrilege or disrespect is intended. I just happen to be a huge movie fan and I believe strongly in the concept of art imitating life. Or in this case, art imitating death-then-life. I am convinced that resurrection, in a variety of forms, is a powerful storytelling device, primarily since it is grounded in the truth of the greatest story ever told. This will not be an in-depth exploration of these films. There is simply too much ground to cover. I do reserve the right to revisit these films down the road with a more thorough examination. With that in mind, here are five of my favorite movie resurrections. Warning: Many spoilers ahead. You have been warned.

 

Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings)

Tolkien scattered Christ figures throughout his most popular work, with Gandalf being one of the most obvious and powerful. Director Peter Jackson, though not sharing Tolkien’s faith, fully embraced many of these allusions and in some ways, upped the ante. When Gandalf falls to the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, in the first film in the trilogy, he “dies” with his arms extended in cruciform. He gives his life to save the fellowship. When he returns in The Two Towers, he returns transfigured. He descended into the bowels of death and is raised up again in power and glory.

 

E.T. (E.T. The Extraterrestrial)

Everyone knows about E.T. If you don’t, stop reading this and go watch it right now. It is one of the greatest films ever made and you are less of a person if you have not watched it. The film includes one of the best Christophanies, which is ironic considering it was directed by a Jewish man who had no intention of making that connection. E.T. dies, comes back to life, performs miracles, and ascends to the heavens by films end. Awesome stuff which is only helped by the incredible John Williams’s score.

 

Neo (The Matrix)

Whoa! I realize that the religious symbols, words, and imagery that are liberally sprinkled throughout the film were included not out of any devotion to the truth, but more in an effort to tie the film to older and deeper archetypes. For the most part, it is effective. The final scenes in the film step into the eternal conversation about death and rebirth and while the filmmakers divorce their exploration of these things from Christian ideals like selflessness and sacrifice, they do touch upon the concept of Messianic necessity.

 

Truman (The Truman Show)

At some point, I am going to do a deep dive into the spiritual and social truths layered into this film, but for now, we will just hit some highlights. The Truman Show is the story of one man – Truman Burbank – who lives a false life. He doesn’t realize his life is fake, but everyone around him does. He is the unwitting star of a television show that has followed his every move since the day he was born. His entire world is fake; the makers of the show even construct a city-sized studio to preserve the illusion. Late in the film, once Truman has discovered that things are not what they appear, he is confronted by Christof, the creator of the show. Christof summons a storm to destroy Truman’s boat, leaving Truman tangled in ropes and unconscious under water. For the lack of a better word, Truman dies. Then he rises from the dead. Truman continues his attempt to escape, using the still floating  boat and Christof, in a final, desperate attempt, uses the studio’s sound system to speak to Truman. He is the very voice of the god of this fake and empty world. He tries to convince Truman to stay. Every plea and bargain rings hollow and Truman remains steadfast in his desire to leave. There is imagery throughout the final moment of the film that are clearly signposts to the crucifixion, Jesus, and the empty tomb. Combined with the thematic ingenuity of the film, the ending makes for a powerful and satisfying resolution.

 

Thor

Scoff if you want, but in my mind, there are few films that incorporate the ideas of self sacrifice and resurrection better than Marvel’s Thor. Without getting too specific, Thor, the god of Thunder, goes through a massive character transformation; going from arrogant and foolish to noble and selfless during the course of the film. The emotional climax of the film occurs when Thor offers his life to save his friends. He is rewarded with death and then a return to life in a powerful and triumphant bit of cinematic magic. In the clip below, the elements that truly sell the moment are the amazing score by Patrick Doyle and the radiant smile on Lady Sif’s face when she realizes that her friend is not dead.

So there you have it. Those are a few of my favorites. I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Or, you can tell us about some other resurrections in popular culture that mean a lot to you.




Resurrection Dawning: An Easter Portrait

Happy Easter!

That does not seem good enough to express how Easter should make us feel though, does it? Happy is good, but it fails to capture everything Easter means. How can we ever say enough? How can we articulate everything the Resurrection is and everything it represents, not only for us as believers, but for the entire world? The simple answer is, we can’t. We simply do not have the words. We do not have it in us to tell the story better than it has already been told. Scripture tells the story with words and images and power. It tells us of the bruised heel and the crushed head. The sinless lamb slain for the sins of the world. Powerful imagery that we cannot hope to top.

So, instead of trying to do the impossible, we have chosen to simply add our voices to the throngs of past and present believers that have proudly proclaimed the joy of Easter. We hope what little we have to contribute will be a blessing to you on this truly blessed Easter morning.

Ethan - age 11
Ethan – age 11

I am astounded just as much by the incredibly long working of God’s plan of salvation as by the final culmination of the saving acts of Jesus. I have already talked in The Moral Essential of Being how there was a whole lot of time involved in the road to salvation before the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. In fact, God said he was making plans before the world’s timeline even started. And when time did begin, Jesus was there and involved in that act of world creation. John 1:1-3 says the Word (Jesus Christ) was with God and was God in the beginning. And it wasn’t just Jesus who worked the centuries-long plan. The other two members of the trinity—God the Father and God the Holy Spirit—were also there and were equally as pivotal in the long work of salvation.

Although it may be the most important piece, the role the incarnate Son of God played between His human birth and His final ascension into heaven wasn’t His final piece of the puzzle. And the Holy Spirit’s role certainly did not end with helping conceive Jesus in the womb of the virgin Mary. Nor did the hand of God the Father withdraw after the work of Christ on earth was done. The three persons of the godhead are still completing the Easter story today and forevermore.

It is true that right now there are still burrs and bellyaching and holy outrage in this earthly life even for Christians. But on Easter day we are celebrating the beginning of a redemption and renewal of all things toward a time when all the imperfections of life will be no more. Revelation 21:4 tells us that in that glorious, final day God will wipe away our tears. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. All the burrs and bellyaching and holy outrage will ever after be a thing of the past. I long for that day.

– Ben Plunkett

Aidan - age 13
Aidan – age 13

The thing about Easter is that it was so empirical. We talk about faith all the time in Christianity, but that word must be quantified by history and evidence and transmission. Make no mistake, the fact that the early apostles saw the resurrected Jesus is crucial to the story.

Over and over and over in the book of Acts you find the disciples emphasizing the word “witness” to describe resurrection (Acts 2:32, 3:15, 5:31-33, 10:39-41, 13:29-31, 26:16).  It mattered to picking Judas’ replacement, evangelism and so much more. Jesus and Ananias in Acts used the word “witness” to refer to how Christians would share Christ with others. (And while we witness based on what we believe today, they witnessed based on what they saw.) In 2 Peter 1:16, Peter uses the word “witness” to attest to his words being fact. And Luke begins and ends with eyewitnesses being the source of his Gospel, book-ending the story of Jesus by emphasizing empirical proof. Additionally, the Apostles creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 says four times that Jesus “appeared.” The focus on this fact is vitally important to our faith.

But Jesus said something to Thomas that I think we need to remember lest we bemoan the fact we were not so “Blessed” to see Jesus just as they did. In John 20, He told Thomas that “You believe because you see. But blessed are those who do not see yet still believe.” Our belief is not blind, but neither is it without testimony that was verified by sight, sound, smell and touch. I believe Jesus walked the earth, died and rose because of my faith. But not without evidence.

And this and every Easter I don’t want to try to bring God down to my level, but neither do I want to check my mind at the door as I worship. What I know effects what I feel. I have broken down and cried numerous times thinking about those 11 men and countless others giving their lives for what they saw.  And that is why Easter is so special.

– Gowdy Cannon

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Wesley – age 6

Humans were never created for death.

When my Aunt Lisa was tragically killed in a car accident leaving a husband and two young boys, I couldn’t believe it. I was in college away from home, and my grandma told me the news over the phone. “No!” I replied. “This isn’t real,” I thought. I’ll never forget seeing my precious grandma who had lost her daughter saying to the casket, “I’ll see you later.”

The next Sunday at church, my grandma requested the hymn “Because He Lives.”

My sister-in-law died from breast cancer in 2015, less than two weeks after a confirmed diagnosis.  She left a husband and three very young children. I still responded, “No. This can’t be real.” Her memorial service was simple. Songs. Poetry. Scripture. A beautiful tribute by her best friend. It still seems unreal that Bethany is not here.

The speaker at her service used Truth and reminded us mourners, “Things are not always as they seem.”

Humans were never created for death, and maybe this is why it doesn’t seem real when it happens.

Humanity chose death. To sin is to choose death, but God became man to die in our place, to redeem all of us. Because of His sinlessness, death could not stick. Death is the payment for sin, and He had never purchased it. We get to choose Jesus’ death for our sins and Jesus’ perfect, righteous, sinless life for our own lives. We get to choose eternal life.

This sacred holiday reminds us HE LIVES!  Screams to us that death is not the end! Proclaims hope when tragedy attempts to suck it away.

Because HE LIVES, we can face tomorrow.

We were never created for death.  And though humanity chose it, God made certain through His own sacrifice and resurrection that we have another choice.  A choice at life.

Happy Easter!

– Amy Lytle

Wesley - age 6
Wesley – age 6

I want to be an Easter person.

I love Easter, but I do not love it enough. I am a Christmas person. I love that time of year. I love the lights, the decorations, the music, the food. I love the reason behind it all even more. The story of the Nativity is miraculous in its depth and power. For whatever reason, I have never felt that same pull for Easter. And that bothers me.

My wife has been a big proponent of making Easter a much bigger deal in our home. We are even planning to scale back on Christmas so we can do more for Easter each year. I want my children to recognize the singular importance of the Easter story. Without it, we have nothing. Without the death, burial and resurrection, we are without hope. Perhaps by focusing on it more and talking about it more and celebrating it more we will show our kids its great importance. I hope it works for me as well. I want to be an Easter person.                    

– Phill Lytle

Denkie - age 17
Denkie – age 17

I recently heard that Christmas points to Easter. Jesus was born to die so that he could defeat death. I don’t normally like thinking about Christmas songs outside the month of December but here I make an exception. This is a watercolor painting inspired by a few lines from Joy to the World. “No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground, He comes to make his blessings flow, Far as the curse is found.”  This is an abstract that flashed in my mind as I pondered “Far as the curse is found.”  However far the ever-reverberating echoes of the fall can branch out, the resurrection overcomes–as far as the curse can be found!

Brandon AtwoodFullSizeRender-1
Have a wonderful and happy Easter!
The Rambling Ever On staff




Phases of Grace

I. Death

After He sighed His last,
the dead came out
to bat their eyes and survived,
the earth revived.

The light
of God passed into
the fields,
the whitewashed fields.

The land survived,
the land revived.

II. Resurrection

There were burrs and
bellyaching
and holy outrage
in our dying race
in need of grace.

And grace is in
a tomb and a tree,
my brothers and sisters,
in a time that is free.

Death was on the earth,
it did not realize,
it did not recognize,
it will not survive.

III. Everlasting Life

There are still burrs and
bellyaching
and holy outrage

as men and women gallivant
from here to there all nonchalant,

and
cities coil with selfish boys
and girls.

But He sighed and
we came out
to bat our eyes,
we revive,
we will survive.




“Surprised By Hope”: A Conversation About the One Book Everyone Should Read this Easter

“I get more letters, emails, and other messages about Surprised By Hope than all my other books put together, and I think it articulates what the Bible and the Gospel are really all about in ways which importantly cut across what so many western Christians take for granted.”
(N.T. Wright, on which  one of his books he wishes everyone would read)

 

[The following is a conversation between three of our members who have read and endorse “Surprised By Hope,” a book by N.T. Wright that petitions us to rethink the resurrection and life after death. It is our hope that many of our readers will check out this book this year in honor of the Easter holiday approaching.]

Dave Lytle: I will never forget being 16 years old at a friend’s house and pulling Mere Christianity off their bookshelf. Reading that book blew me away. Reading that first chapter in that house is one of the most important moments of my life. 16 years later, I was teaching Bible and History in Lima, Peru. I had read a couple books by N.T. Wright and listened to a bunch of lectures and sermons on my iPod, but when I stumbled across his Surprised by Hope in my school’s library I had no idea how important it would be. Wright’s vision of Christian hope, grounded in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ resonated deeply with me. It bulldozed any remaining pseudo-gnostic thoughts that I had entertained by singing “I’ll fly away” or “This World Is Not My Home.” It made life after death a physical reality to me. It made sense.

A year later, my wife of ten years died within a few weeks of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Amidst the tears and rage, hope was still real. While I am not suggesting that Surprised by Hope is flawless, I truly believe that God led me to that book in preparation for what was to come in my life. Today I am talking to two of the people I respect the most, Brandon Atwood and Gowdy Cannon, about why this book is so good.

What surprised you most about this book?

Gowdy: I think the thing that surprised me the most was the case he made for how “obsessed” (to use his word) we are in the US with the second coming of Christ in the sense that we make it about Christ taking us to “heaven” and leaving this God forsaken world behind. You alluded to two hymns. He picks one of the most well-written and powerful hymns we have in “How Great Thou Art.” It says, ‘When Christ shall come…and take me home…’ But if God is going to bring Heaven down and make a new earth, then I do not agree with that wording since this world is my home, just not in its redeemed state yet. Wright’s suggested edit is ‘heal this world’ instead of ‘take me home.’

And this matters significantly because what the Rapture teaching (which I didn’t agree with even before I read this book) does is it causes us to see the earth as distinct from our future home. That is why we do not understand the full force of what the resurrection was supposed to accomplish: God’s power to make messed up things new. This world is indeed my future home and we are to do whatever we can to make it like heaven right now. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Jesus prayed. That radically changes my attitude towards the present. I am less inclined to say “Well, Jesus is going to make it right one day when he takes us away so let’s just make it til then” and more inclined to say, “Jesus died and rose to give me hope that God can revolutionize my messed up world right now.” That affects how I minister to everyone with whom I come in contact. Because, as Wright says, the early church didn’t say, “Jesus rose from the dead, now we can go be with him in Heaven when we die.” No, their response to the resurrection was to turn the world upside down.

Brandon: I was surprised most by a renewed excitement about the resurrection and all its implications. One way the book introduces these implications is with the simple phrase, “on earth as it is in heaven.” That portion of The Lord’s Prayer sums up the book to me. Jesus prayed for things on earth to become more and more like heaven. One of the key points of the book is that God was pleased with his creation and he wants to “set things to rights.” The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of God setting things right. The resurrection is not just about Jesus coming back to life (like I once thought of it) it is about all that God wants to do with the entire creation. That is surprising!

Dave: That’s so true, Brandon. From my reading, the book offers hope on at least two levels. First, It gives me clearer vision of our future life with Christ. My hope is grounded in every way in Jesus’ resurrection. I have a solid hope that I and those I love will have a physical, glorified body just like Jesus did! The thought of our reunion with those that have died in Christ becomes so much more vivid and real when we know that we will be able to embrace them with the bodies that God has given us. The book also offers the kind of hope Brandon was talking about. We not only have hope for our life after death, we also have hope for our purpose here on earth. God is not done with this place and he never will be. He created us to live here and promises us a future where he will dwell and reign here. If he is in the business of making his creation a new creation, so should we.

Brandon: Dave, the reunion with my family and friends is close to my heart. Wright’s book challenged me to search the Scriptures again and that quest confirmed what he is saying in the book. We really will be raised bodily! I really will see my father and sister again! 1 Corinthians 15 becomes a foundational chapter for our full understanding of God’s future plans.

Gowdy: What that does is teach me that God isn’t just all powerful, but loving in how he redeems and makes new. God’s power can make something out of nothing, but God’s power plus his redemptive love can take something broken and mangled and destroyed–as was Christ’s body was–and make it look like before. As if the cross never happened.

To illustrate: if my favorite car gets crushed in an accident, and I have the ability To either 1. Buy a new car or 2. Work on it so much that I take the crushed car and make it like before. God would choose the latter. If I really loved the car, I would too.

What he did with Christ’s body that Sunday morning is what he will do with our bodies and with our earth. He won’t throw them out and start over. He’ll make all things new (Rev. 21:5). Because he redeems to love. I owe Wright for teaching me that.

Dave: That has huge implications for how we treat the earth God has given us and how we fulfill his purposes on this earth in our life.

Brandon: I like how Wright breaks down Gnosticism and what he calls “The myth of progress.” These are the two prevailing mindsets in the world right now. One says that everything is evil and we need to reject this world. The second view is the complete opposite; humans can keep making everything better. What’s great is how the book reveals that neither of those is the biblical view, although at times Christians can be influenced by these philosophies. The way that Jesus inaugurated in the resurrection is something completely new and different. The resurrection doesn’t try to escape this world or try to somehow improve it. Instead, the resurrection is a complete remaking of creation.

Dave: I never agree with everything I read, but I have a hard time disagreeing with much of anything in this book. Even so, it leaves me wondering about where I stand on a few things. One of these is the way Wright uses the word “Heaven.” Basically, he calls into question the notion that when Christians die they go to “Heaven.” He says he firmly believes that that is not how the Bible uses that word. Wright argues that Heaven is used in Scripture as the dwelling place of God and as such, the control room of earth. When speaking to someone about to die, Jesus even used the term paradise rather than heaven. Wright affirms that those that die in Christ are present with him. He champions the notion that the dead in Christ will rise when Jesus returns to restore his creation, but he avoids talking about going to Heaven when we die. After all, the Christian hope is not escape from earth to heaven but the “Marriage of Heaven and earth” in God’s new creation. I see his point, but I don’t know if I am willing to argue against centuries of Christians using “Heaven” as the place where believers go upon death. If Christians are in the presence of God after death, are they not in heaven?

Brandon: Good question. My understanding of what he means by that is we are not yet in our resurrected bodies immediately after we die. Heaven, as most people refer to it, is an ambiguous picture of clouds and floating around. He seems to be trying really hard to change that picture.  Heaven is not a place we go to but a reality that comes to us–unless paradise is in Heaven. What I’m saying is I don’t completely understand it all either. I appreciate the author’s honesty. When it comes to the details of life after death, we really aren’t given much to go on in Scripture. His favorite way to illustrate that is to call it a signpost in the fog. I seem to remember that Wright says the book’s take on heaven lines up with early church theology. Am I wrong on that?

Dave: I think you are correct, but my guess is by early church theology he is talking about the Apostles and the Didache. If so, he is not really saying much more than this is what the Bible teaches. This is his argument, anyway.

Gowdy: Like Brandon said, in some sense I appreciate how he doesn’t feel the need to make everything neat and tidy with a perfect little bow.

The only thing that really makes me scratch my head in the sense that I think I disagree is in Jesus and certain parables. He makes a case that when Jesus tells parables about a master leaving and then coming back that these were supposed to be talking about Jesus’s first coming and not his second. Matthew 24:36-51 is clearly one of these parables and also seems to clearly teach that it’s about Jesus’s second coming. It’s the passage where Jesus says no one knows the day or the hour. That has to be the second coming, right?

Either way, the book stretched my thinking and I’m glad it’s not all traditional interpretation.

Dave: Matthew 24 does say that “this generation will not pass until all these things have happened” so I think it makes sense that Jesus is talking about either his first coming or the destruction of Jerusalem. But I’m not going to tackle THAT passage in any detail.

I know Wright has been criticized by some conservatives for his views on Justification and even scriptural inerrancy, but what strikes me most about this book is how biblical and conservative it is. He is not riding hobby horses or making arguments because they are trendy; every word in the book rests on his belief that the historical Jesus of Nazareth rose physically from the dead on the third day. It’s so biblical. It’s so true!

So guys, why is this the book everyone should read this Easter?

Gowdy: My principle reason for recommending this book is because nothing matters more than the resurrection. And its implications are essential for Christian evangelism and discipleship. So we better get them right. And if we are wrong, we need to admit it and change our minds, to change our behavior.  Wright has the courage to say–at least in some way–“We’re wrong.” I can tell you as a student of the Bible that I want material like this most of the time, but I need it even when I don’t want it. I want to be stretched and challenged, in order to live scripturally.

Brandon: I recommend this book to anyone. Seriously. People who aren’t Christians will get a clear Gospel presentation. They will see that most Christians actually think deeply about this stuff and it matters a great deal to our entire lives. People who are Christians will get a more accurate biblical understanding of the resurrection and all the important implications that go along with that. Most of all, these are the sorts of things we should be talking about: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that means for our everyday lives. That is what this book is about and it’s written in a way that anybody can understand.

Dave: Just like Mere Christianity assured me that I wasn’t crazy for believing in God, this book confirmed for me the importance of God’s physical creation. I’ve felt uncomfortable for some time when I hear that the soul is all that matters and the body is unimportant. So Jesus died to save my soul and my body is just going to rot? This attitude doesn’t seem to jive with what the Apostles were saying about the resurrection of the dead and it certainly doesn’t correspond to what God was doing in the beginning of Genesis and the end of Revelation. Wright’s book really put any doubts to rest I had about these issues. I came away assured that the physical and the spiritual are both what it means to be human. God designed us to be both. They are both stained by sin, but they are both to be transformed by the death and resurrection of Jesus. God’s plan for what he wants humans to be has not changed since creation. That kind of Sovereignty is amazing!

On a deeply personal level, this book and my own study of Scripture have given me the hope I’ve needed to face the unimaginable. More than anything, it has been an immense source of comfort to be sure that death is the enemy of God. I will never be able to explain all the ins and outs of why God allows for the death of a 32 year old wife and mother, but I am supremely confident that he hates it as much as I do. Death has terrorized his dear children for too long. Yet, Jesus has conquered Death through his resurrection and will destroy him once and for all (I Cor 15:26). I find this truth a lot more comforting than vague platitudes about God’s plan for this loss. I know God’s plan for this loss…it’s Resurrection!