If you read the title of this post and thought, “Well, obviously, Hannah…” and that’s a no-brainer for you, then keep reading. And if you didn’t think that, then definitely keep reading.
Here’s the thing: I know the story of Lazarus. I can’t overemphasize how many times I’ve heard it and learned about it. It’s amazing. But you know what? Not until I read a book this summer did I think about the fact that Lazarus still died.
I don’t mean that he died and Jesus famously wept and then even more famously raised him to life. I mean after all of that—the death, weeping, and resurrecting—Lazarus still died. For some reason, that thought had never once occurred to me.
“Okay, great…” you may be thinking, wondering what the point is. Well, the fact that Lazarus still died has been a transformative idea in my life and way of thinking over the past few months, and it’s had a significant impact on the way I view ministry and what I’m trying to do with Still Waters, the faith-based cancer retreat I’m starting.
I’ve been studying the book of Romans again lately, in part because I just finished a long study of Paul’s letters to Corinth and it’s believed Paul wrote Romans from Corinth, but also because I went back to Rome in April, an amazing trip provided courtesy of years of airline miles and the lowest AAdvantage award tickets I’ve seen to an international destination. Rome is also where Paul died, so I thought it would be great timing to study Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, given all I learned during Wheaton in the Holy Lands in 2014 in both Corinth and Rome plus all that I saw back in Rome this year.
The site remembered as the tomb of Paul at the Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul’s outside the Walls) in Rome.
I’m not super far—I like to take it slowly and use what I’ve learned (and taught) about literature over the years as I study, thinking through author, setting, purpose, tone, audience, and other narrative elements. Context matters—not just because “Context” is one of my top “strengthsquest” strengths, but because it adds so much to the message.
I’ve been learning much about grace over the past year and in reading Romans, but that’s for a future post. Today, I’m reflecting on what I think is one of the most hopeful partial verses from Scripture I’ve read in a long time: “…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4:17b).