“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
Jesus descended into that valley, that pit we all fear and against which we fight with all our might. He clothed himself in skin and bones and fragile flesh, just so he could live a perfect life, pour out all his blood as a sacrifice for us, and die a gruesome death on our behalf. He knew full well what death would do to his soul and his flesh, and yet he did it willingly. He entrusted his body and his spirit into God’s hands to do with as he willed.
Peter watched him do it, hiding in the shadows rather than standing at the Savior’s feet with John. They watched their best of all friends stripped of his skin and beard and dignity. They saw death reduce their Master to a bleeding, quivering pulp, bowels loosening, nakedness exposed, as ugly as death ever gets. They saw it. It changed them forever.
Three days later, they saw his body whole, radiant, and made new—they beheld Christ’s remade body with their own eyes, the same body put back together again. They and over five hundred people were eyewitnesses. The fact of it changed the world. God incarnate and now resurrected promised to do the same for our bodies, no matter how we die and no matter what tears us apart in the process. He will make new the bodies of those who believe and trust in him.
Encouraging the first-century believers who faced persecution for their beliefs and possible deaths like the Savior, Peter wrote: “After you have suffered a little while, God himself will restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).
There it is. Because of what Christ did, this is the promise.
Paul said it this way: “Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself. Therefore…stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved” (Philippians 3:20-4:1).
Thus, we stand firm in the face of death, because of what Christ did and what he promised to do. Anchoring all our hope in him, we live this life for him and we face this death for him.
As the joy of God’s creativity bursts forth anew from the spring-time earth, as the joy of creativity stirs my heart and we design a cover for my upcoming novel, we trudge down into the valley with slow and reverent steps. My husband’s mother’s days are now few. This is it.
How could we live through this loss, this tumult of emotion, this up and this down, without the Savior guiding us through? How could we endure this without his having walked the trail before us? We couldn’t. He is everything. He will hold us up, gently leading our steps. We will be made new with radiant, restored bodies. He will put her back together again, restored and made firm.
Thank you, Lord, for your promise. We believe.