Resurrection and the Surviving God

Resurrection and the Surviving God October 9, 2013

Content Note: brief description of a suicide attempt 

This past year, around Easter, I planned on writing some posts about crucifixion and resurrection. I found I couldn’t really get past the former. I mean, I’m a skeptic on the idea of the literal resurrection of Jesus to begin with, but I found I couldn’t even envision a risen God. A victorious living God.

A suffering God? A dying God? An oppressed God? Yeah, I could see that. I could see that clearly. In fact, writing about the crucifixion and beginning to see God With Us in suffering and oppression and resistance helped me fall in love with God. It helped me replace the fear and confusion that had once come up when I thought of God with a sense of nearness and comfort. I could see God in myself.

But I couldn’t (and still can’t, really) reconcile the idea of the resurrected Jesus with my experience in life.

I’ve heard such beautiful and hopeful language about the resurrection ushering in a renewed world of love and justice, but I look around and I can’t always find it. At the time, I was severely depressed, which made everything seem bleaker than it really is. But even now (still struggling with depression but it’s less severe), I wonder, if Jesus died to usher in a renewed world, well, where is it?

The resurrection is supposed to be this big, important, world-changing thing, but what did it actually do?

It was like Jesus went through all that suffering, and all the trouble of coming back to life anyway and nothing got better and nothing changed. The sick are still sick, the captive are still captive, the oppressed are still oppressed. All that’s different is that we have a bunch of people running around the world telling everyone that “Jesus is alive?”

So what?

Simply put, the resurrection seemed pointless to me.  Like nothing more than a fun trick.

I think I’m grasping at an idea of resurrection that I can relate to, though. I’m still figuring it out, even as I write this–in the process of writing I changed my mind about all the conclusions I planned to come to. But here we go anyway:

Maybe resurrection isn’t a declaration of ultimate victory over evil. Maybe resurrection is about survivors, not triumphant kings. 

I’ve embraced the narrative of crucifixion as God With Us in suffering. Maybe I’m ready to embrace the narrative of resurrection as God With Us in surviving.

I attempted suicide almost exactly two years ago. I don’t know if I should have died or came close to actually dying. But I remember lying on my bathroom floor, sicker than I’ve ever been, with vomit in my hair and thinking, It is finished. 

I think God was there. The suffering God that I later fell in love with.

I don’t remember how long I was on that cold floor. It wasn’t three days, but it felt like it. Maybe it was three hours. I don’t know if I actually came close to dying or just felt like I was dying.

But I do know that I didn’t stay there. Eventually, I got up.

I rose again.

I rose again, knowing things weren’t going to get better just because I got up. I rose again, knowing friends and family were going to see me as weak and a failure because of this. It wasn’t victorious or triumphant. It was shaky and quiet and scary and lonely. 

I wonder if Jesus’ resurrection was the same way. 

I didn’t single-handedly defeat depression and the pain from my past when I rose off that floor. I didn’t defeat the powers of evil or anything exciting like that.

But I survived.

Maybe the key to reconciling the resurrection with my experience is not in Christus Victor but in Christ, Survivor. 

If God understands the pain of suffering, maybe she also understands the struggle of surviving after suffering. Maybe God understands how hard it is to rise up off cold bathroom floors, wipe vomit off your face, and decide you’re going to keep living for now, even though the world hasn’t changed much.

Today, I’m going to embrace the idea of resurrection as this: Fellow survivors, God is with us. 

Browse Our Archives