Habermas rubbed his graying beard. The quick fire cadence and debater’s edge to his voice were gone. No more quoting of scholars, no more citing of Scripture, no more building a case. I had asked about the importance of the Resurrection, and Habermas decided to take a risk by harkening back to 1995, when his wife, Debbie, slowly died of stomach cancer. Caught off guard by the tenderness of the moment, all I could do was listen.
“I sat on our porch,” he began, looking off to the side at nothing in particular. He sighed deeply, then went on. “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 me. “But do you know what was amazing? My students would call me—not just one but several of them—and say, ‘At a time like this, aren’t you glad about the Resurrection?’ As sober as those circumstances were, I had to smile for two reasons. 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 that 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?’ ‘Did I raise my Son from the dead?’—until I got his point: the Resurrection says that if Jesus was raised two thousand years ago, there’s an answer to Debbie’s death in 1995. And do you know what? It worked for me while I was sitting on the porch, and it still works today.”
“It was a horribly emotional time for me, but I couldn’t get ...
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