When I signed on to write this post, I had no idea the world would be in the midst of one of the hardest waits we’ve ever faced, the global pandemic of 2020. As I write, Americans are being urged to stay home from school, work, church, even from the doctor’s office. We stay home, and we wait. We wait to see if the curve will be flattened; we wait to see if the virus will strike us or our loved ones; we wait to see what will happen to the economy when it’s all over. It feels as if the whole world is trembling as it waits.
And yet, even as we wait in this nerve-shattering season, because of the resurrection, we wait with hope. Unlike the first followers of Jesus on the day after his death, we know there is a better day coming.
The First ‘Already/Not Yet’ Day
You may have heard the phrase “the already and the not yet” in a sermon or read it in a book. The “already” refers to the fact that Jesus has “already” died for our sins and been raised to new life, that his followers have “already” known the cleansing of our sins and our adoption as God’s children. The “not yet” refers to the fact that Jesus has “not yet” returned to fully restore all of creation; indeed, we groan with all of creation for the redemption of all things (Romans 8:22-23). In this season of the “already/not yet,” we eagerly await the day when Jesus will return to fully and finally restore all broken things.
While we may be aware of the “already and the not yet” era we occupy, we often forget that there was another “already/not yet” day: the first Saturday after Jesus had died on the cross. What a dark day that must have been! Imagine Jesus’ followers. Heads hung low, hearts hanging out. Wondering…. what just happened, and why? But not really waiting. Because, after all, what was there to wait for? Their Savior had died. His body lay in a tomb.
On that first “already/not yet” day, Jesus’ followers had little reason to hope as they waited. For us, it is different. We know the “already” of Jesus’ resurrection. And that “already” helps us to wait well for the “not yet,” even in the hardest of waits. Because of the resurrection, there will never be another day when Christians wait without hope. Let’s consider five ways the resurrection comforts us in the worst wait of our lives.
How the Resurrection Comforts Us as We Wait
First, the resurrection comforts us in our fear of death. We join Paul’s cry, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” for indeed “death is swallowed up in victory,” the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death (1 Cor. 15:54-55). As theologian John Stott explains, “We will not only survive death, but be raised from it. We are to be given new bodies like his resurrection body, with new and undreamed-of-powers.”[i] Because of the resurrection, death is not the end of the story for Christians.
Second, the resurrection comforts us in the midst of chaos on this earth. On Good Friday, all hell seemed to break loose. The Savior-King had died. Could God really be in control? But on Resurrection Sunday, when God raised Jesus from the dead, he proved his sovereignty over evil. God had not left the throne on that terrible day when our Savior died; he has not left the throne today. And now, our Savior-King Jesus, raised from the dead, occupies the throne right next to his Father, ruling over the cosmos (Ephesians 1:20-23).
Third, the resurrection comforts us in the doubts and questions that arise as we wait: Does this life have any purpose? Is there meaning in this suffering? Jesus’ suffering and resurrection tells us there is. He points us, as he did his disciple Thomas, to the scars in his resurrected body, urging us, “Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27). Jesus’ suffering and resurrection infuses our suffering with new life and purpose. He calls us, as he did his disciple Peter, to “feed his sheep,” to minister hope in the midst of suffering (John 20:17).
Fourth, the resurrection comforts us by reminding us that we serve the God who works miraculously. As we wait, we certainly can pray that this season grows our patience, but because of the resurrection, we can also pray for miraculous healing, healing beyond all expectations. As we wait, we can pray that we will be faithful, but we can also pray that God would work remarkably to restore health, work, and relationships. Because of the resurrection, we know that all healing is just a foretaste of the miraculous healing we will one day experience when Christ returns.
Finally, the resurrection comforts us with certainty about our forever future. While we have little certainty about whether or when we will beat COVID-19, we know one thing for sure: Because Christ was raised from the dead, we are headed for future glory (Col. 3:4). One day, when he appears, we will be made like him (1 John 3:2). On that day, the day when the “not yet” finally arrives, the long wait will be over. As we wait in these hard days, let us hear and hope in the resurrected Jesus calling to us, “Behold, I am coming soon!” (Revelation 22:7).
[i] John Stott, Understanding the Bible (rev. edn. London: Scripture Union, 1976, 1984; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 134.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Turnage is a writer, story coach, and teacher. She founded Living Story to help people learn, live, and love the gospel. She is the author of The Waiting Room: 60 Meditations for Finding Peace & Hope in a Health Crisis and the Living Story Bible Study Series (P & R), Elizabeth offers gospel-centered resources at her blog, www.elizabethturnage.com. Elizabeth has been married to orthopedic surgeon Kip Turnage for 36 years. They enjoy spending time with their children, Kirby and Amy Anne Turnage, Jackie and Matt Roelofs, Mary Elizabeth and Caleb Blake, and Robert Turnage. When they are not working or visiting their kids, they enjoy doting on their golden doodle, Rosie, the “best-dog-ever”!