Death and resurrection are looked upon by most of us from purely a Plan B perspective—a fallback position if/when Plan A is no longer available. We are quite certain we want no part of them until there is absolutely no other option. There’s very little of the “to live is Christ and to die is gain,” mindset that Paul expressed in Philippians 1:21.
Still, disciples of Jesus have hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). And the biblical presentation of hope is not about exchanging a greater state of existence for a lesser one. Furthermore, we tend to think that God looks at things like we do—that He wants no part of these for us and that’s where things unravel even more.
From a biblical viewpoint, death and resurrection are not Plan B—they are Part Two. Part Two is what is supposed to follow Part One. Like two sections of a book, they are connected, intertwined even, so that life is not without death and death is certainly not without life. Moreover, Part Two is the place where all of the joy, goodness, and wonder that were experienced in Part One are fully realized.
When we begin to think and live as Part Two people, we come into possession of that marvelous thing spoken of earlier—hope. Emily Dickinson wrote:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all.
The Hebrew writer employs a different but no less effective picture for hope when he speaks of it as an anchor (6:19). Drifting in a boat is a rather helpless feeling. My daughter and I experienced this recently when the engine in our boat stopped and was completely uninterested in starting again. From that point on, the wind and the current had everything to say about where we were going and we had no say. We could have used an anchor! When by faith we arrive at an understanding of and in our Father’s promises, we take possession of hope. We understand that everything belongs to our Father and He works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-39). The rain is still going to come, the wind is still going to blow, but they are neither fatal nor final to us.
Our story was written long ago in a careful hand by a loving Father. It is one story in two parts with a steady stream of hope running all of the way through it. May we learn to embrace both parts, drink deeply of the hope, and live fearlessly and joyfully for Him who died and lives for us.