Summary: What if your loved one came back from the dead?
When my mother died in 1993, I was unprepared for the intense grief that hit me like a freight train. My father had died ten years before, but that was different. He didn’t like me, and there was no love lost between us, so the whole process was not that traumatic. When my mother died, though, I felt like the whole world as I knew it had come to an end.
For a whole year after Mama died, I couldn’t draw breath without my chest hurting. I cried a lot. I missed her. I found myself picking up the phone to call her. I couldn’t even bring myself to wash an afghan she had made just because it smelled like her.
I still cry when I hear His Eye is on the Sparrow. It was one of her favorite hymns, and someone sang it at her memorial service which, by the way, I couldn’t even sit through. I had to leave right after the singing was done.
It took a good two years for me to start feeling normal again, and by the time the third anniversary of her death rolled around, I was pretty much back to my old self. But during those three years, I found myself thinking on innumerable occasions, If I could just see her one more time. If I could just talk to her. If I could only hear her voice once more.
I think part of what hits us so hard when a loved one dies is the realization that we’re never going to see them again and we’re never going to hear their voice again, at least not on this earth. It’s such an abrupt transition, it’s a shock to our whole system.
Well, we’ve all lost loved ones. We’ve lost parents, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, even children. And we all know how much it hurts and how it affects us on such a deep level. What I want you to do, and I know this will be painful for some of you, is to think back to a time in your life when someone you loved very much has died.
I want you to remember how you felt. The pain, the confusion, the shock, the emptiness, the feeling that you’d been kicked in the chest, the loneliness you felt when you realized you’d never talk to that person again. All of the pain and anguish you felt. I want you to remember it all.
Now I want you to try to imagine how you’d feel if that person appeared right in front of you and spoke your name. They’re there, in the flesh, looking you right in the face. Not a ghost, not an apparition, but real, alive, flesh and blood, healthy. Back from the dead.
How do you think you’d feel? The pain is gone, the despair is gone, the weight lifts from your chest. And then they speak your name, a sound you thought you’d never hear again. Can you feel the relief? The gratitude? The excitement?
What’s the first thing you’d do? Run? Hide? Try to get away? I doubt it. If you’re human, and most of us are, I think the first thing you’d do is speak their name and then reach out to hug them. The need to hold them close and feel them alive would be overwhelming. You’d grab them and squeeze them, and never want to turn them loose.
That’s what happened on the first Easter morning. Jesus was dead. He’d been crucified, he had died, and he’d been put into a tomb a couple of days before. His family, friends, and disciples were overwhelmed with grief. They were feeling the very same pain I talked about a minute ago. Their hearts were broken; they were in a state of disbelief; they felt like they’d been kicked in the chest.