February 25, 2024 | Doug Sauder
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“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”—1 Corinthians 15:35–44 (NIV)
One of my closest friends and former band mates of 30 years died in 2022 after a losing battle with cancer. I was devastated, as was his wife, his two boys, his family, and a large community of friends he left behind. At his memorial service, a mutual friend who gave the eulogy quoted a poignant lyric from one of our friend Chris’ songs he had written years ago: “It’s the pain of separation that prompts my lament.”
Indeed, losing my friend caused tremendous heartache because his passing left a void no one else can fill. But even in the midst of pain, I have hope, because Chris is finally at home in heaven with his Savior, Jesus. And though his earthly body was perishable, it will be raised imperishable, as Paul notes in today’s Scripture reading. In other words, cancer may have been able to take my friend’s natural body, but nothing will be able to destroy the glorious spiritual body Chris has received in heaven. That means he is alive and well, and we will be reunited again one day.
Why is this point so important for Paul to make to the Corinthian Church, and why is it still relevant to us? As stated earlier in this chapter, if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then not only is our faith in vain because we’d still be accountable for our sin, but we’d also have no hope of ever seeing our loved ones again who have died (1 Corinthians 15:18).
I love the way the old preacher Charles Spurgeon interpreted today’s passage: “Dear friends, if such be death—if it be but a sowing, let us have done with all faithless, hopeless, graceless sorrow … ‘Our family circle has been broken,’ say you. Yes, but only broken that it may be reformed. You have lost a dear friend: yes, but only lost that friend that you may find him again, and find more than you lost. They are not lost; they are sown.”
My brothers and sisters, there’s no question that the pain of separation from our loved ones here on Earth is real and deep. I don’t think Paul is suggesting that because we’ll have resurrected bodies one day, there’s no point in mourning death. You have permission to fully grieve the loss of your spouse, child, family member, or friend and not hide your pain or tears. Remember, even though Jesus knew He was going to resurrect His friend Lazarus from the dead, He still wept at his grave (John 11:35).
However, I think it’s important that we not let death and our grief have the final say, because, truthfully, they don’t. Jesus does. He conquered death so we can live with the confidence that death isn’t the end of the story, but rather the beginning of an eternal one in which we’ll never have to say goodbye again.
Pause: Have you lost a loved one to sickness, an accident, or maybe even a suicide? If so, know that God understands your pain and grieves with you, as do your brothers and sisters in Christ. He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), and He walks with you through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).
Practice: If you’re struggling with processing your grief in a healthy way or feel hopeless, reach out to a pastor, a professional Christian counselor, or trusted friend who can walk with you through this difficult season of life. You are not alone.
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the author of life, and that You’ve appointed a time and a season for all things. Meet me in my grief and loss. Carry me through this season and restore my hope in the resurrection to come. Amen.
Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.