But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Cor 15:20
December 13, 1977 is a day the residents of Evansville, Indiana will never forget. A new book, “We Will Rise: A True Story of Tragedy and Resurrection in the American Heartland,” recounts the plane crash that killed the University of Evansville men’s basketball team and devastated their community. At the memorial service following the accident university President Wallace Graves vowed, “We will rise”. And rise they did, rebuilding the basketball team with incredible speed and dedication, reaching the NCAA tournament just four years later.
Frightened and vulnerable followers discovered our Lord’s resurrection when an angel of the Lord asked them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here but has risen” (Luke 24:5-6). They had lost everything. Their world had collapsed. Mary and the other women expected nothing. What could a dead man give them? In the midst of the pain and heartache of the moment, they had forgotten the promises of Jesus that he would rise after three days.
The triumph of Christ over the grave is more than just an inspiring “turn around” story. It is the reason Christians through the centuries have come through injustice, tragedy, heartbreak, suffering, persecution, and even worldwide pestilence with assurance and conviction of something better on the other side. Yes, Jesus rose, but He didn’t rise from the grave to return to life as usual. Not only did He return transformed and glorified, he empowered his followers with an unstoppable force that turned the world upside down.
How will we not just survive this crisis, but come through it with the hope and determination of seeing the purposes of God? I appreciate the words of Dr. Jeffrey Haggray,“Declare that our God is the resurrection and the life, and if we will re-organize our nation’s values around the needs of the poor in spirit, of those who mourn, of the meek, of those who hunger and thirst for justice, of the merciful, of the pure in heart, of the peacemakers, and of those who are falsely persecuted; and if we will respond to the call of Christ to be the salt of the earth and light of the world (Matthew 5:1-14), then God will guide us in changing our condition. Call upon the faithful to humble ourselves and pray, to repent and turn from injustice toward the weak, to care for the most vulnerable among us, knowing that God has promised to hear from heaven, to forgive injustice, and to heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).” (The Christian Citizen, April 1, 2020)
That’s why we’re continuing to call out to God in fasting and prayer in our Joel Moments every Wednesday. Let’s allow God to transform us in the midst of this crisis. As we worship together on Easter, remember that we’re not through this yet, but by faith combined with hope we can be used by God in powerful ways until one day we meet Christ face to face!
He is risen. He is risen indeed! And so will WE!