How Jesus Responds to Every Parent’s Greatest Fear
A few nights ago, my daughter showed me a small rash on her neck. I gave her a Benadryl and forgot about it. Kind of.
Later that evening, I started thinking about the rash, which led to googling about rashes, which led to a series of panicked diagnoses which were shared with my very patient husband:
I proposed my daughter might have a skin disease that could possibly get into her bloodstream.
“It’s just a rash,” he countered.
I suggested that perhaps the rash was a sign of a more serious underlying problem.
“It’s just a rash.”
I concluded that since the rash was on her neck, which is close to the head, which is close to the brain, we should get it checked out immediately.
With that logical train of thought, he turned over and went to sleep, but not before I leaned over with just one question: “Do you think it’s just a rash?”
Most of my daily worries in life tend to be tied to health issues, and in particular, health concerns for my children. As I’ve processed this through the years, there’s no doubt that watching both parents die at an early age has a lot to do with my routine struggles. But it goes deeper than that. At the heart of these worries is a fear of death.
It’s not a fear over what will happen after death; I have full confidence and hold fast to the promise that every believer in Jesus Christ will see Him when they close their eyes in this life. What I fear is separation from someone I love. Even more specifically, I fear losing my children, and as I’ve talked with parents through the years, I’ve discovered I’m not alone in my fears.
There are many who have faced the death of a child, a gut-wrenching result of living in a broken world. I have cried with friends whose children have gone to be with Jesus, but I have not lost a child, and I don’t pretend to begin to understand the agony this brings a parent. What I do know is that the Lord cares for us in our grief more than we will ever understand.
And for all parents who have lost a child or who struggle with this fear, there is no greater comfort in life and in death than the fifth ‘I AM’ saying found in John 11 when Jesus says to Martha: “I AM the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus Has Conquered Death: Do Not Fear
In this story, Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had become ill. But Jesus did not go to Lazarus immediately; in fact, by the time He arrives, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. In her grief, Martha says to Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus replies, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha says to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:21, 23-24).
I can almost imagine her response through the tears. It’s as if she’s admitting to her Savior: Yes, I know the truth. We will all be raised in the last day. I get it. But that’s not helping my grief right now. Her knowledge was merely a distant comfort.
So, Jesus looks to Martha and says, “I AM the resurrection and the life” (11:25).
Do you hear what He’s saying? Yes, there will be a day of resurrection at the end of the age, and it will be glorious, but Jesus IS the arrival of that day! Our belief is not merely in a future event but in a person. Jesus goes on and says, “Whoever believes in me though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (11:25b-26a).
In other words, for the living, for those of us who grieve or who fear the pangs of death, the Lord says with tenderness, if you believe in me, there will never be a moment when you are not with me. Never. In your darkest days of grief, I am with you. And in the midst of your anxieties, I will give you peace. I will provide what you need because I am the One who has conquered your greatest fear.
Though we die, yet shall we be raised again to live for eternity with our Savior. That is a promise from God, and He does not break His promises. And while we live, we move forward each day trusting in the One who has already conquered death, the One who IS the resurrection and who IS the life.
In this one statement, Jesus reveals His power and authority over all things, even death, but He also reveals His abundant love for His children.
Jesus Loves Unconditionally: Do Not Fear
One of the greatest comforts of this ‘I AM’ saying is knowing that nothing – not even death – can separate us from God’s love. And this is the kind of voracious love God has for our own children. The breadth of affection we have as parents is deep and wide, but God loves our kids even more than we have the ability to.
But His love does not equal a pain-free life. As our pastor said once, “We can’t treat God like a coke machine.” We don’t put in our good deeds in order to get something “good” out. That’s not the way God loves. He loves by revealing Himself to us, and sometimes He does that through suffering.
As parents, we should consider the question that Jesus asks Martha:“Do you believe this?” (11:26b). If you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, then there is no reason to fear the enemy that is death. The grip of Jesus is so tight on His children that no hardship can ever sever it. We need to be talking with our kids about God’s great love for them, assuring them in their own worries that no matter what happens, God’s love does not change, it cannot be altered, and it’s greater than our greatest fear.
Those who believe in Jesus will never die. This is true in that we will one day be raised again, and it is also true in that “…neither death nor life…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38,39).
Jesus said, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”
Parent, do you believe this?