In the most literal and figurative of terms, I have seen where death precludes transformation.
It’s what the entirety of the gospel describes.
There is joy, there is healing. But first there is pain. First there is brokeness. First, there is death.
Christ himself had reached the pinnacle of who he had allowed himself to become. And then, suddenly, it was too much. Too much for his earthy vessel to contain any longer. All that his earthly ministry had achieved set him up for the greatest miracle his followers had yet to see: his resurrection.
He had to die. There was no way around it.
Nothing shakes us like death. And without his, Christ resurrected would have never been our hope.
We have to endure the dark night of death’s shadow to even begin to appreciate the resurrection, much less let it transform us.
Oh that we could just immediately be in the joy. But that’s not how this works. First, death. Then, rising.
I’m dying a death right now. Not physical. Something else. Even as a writer I cannot describe it except as pain.
All of us hope for a painless, quiet death. In our sleep, perhaps. One where we don’t have to realize what is happening to us.
We don’t want to have to feel a thing.
In the hardest transformations of life, we don’t want to feel those either. We’d rather be transfigured, not transformed.
But the cycle of transformation must include a death.
But how can we know the joy of a resurrection without it? Without discomfort first?
The disciples didn’t know that Christ would rise. Maybe they wanted to believe he would. But they didn’t know. They went into hiding.
But Jesus knew. I believe this is the reason he was able to endure the pain of the cross. Because he knew it wasn’t the end.
Somewhere, deep in the mind and heart of Christ, even as he felt abandoned by his Father, he knew that this was not an end. But a necessity for the beginning of all things. Renewal, hope, joy. These were only possible if he was resurrected. But before he could rise, he had to die.
As my metaphorical death drives me to the point of feeling despair, loneliness, and pain, I cling to the hope of two things.
Christ has known every pain, and I can find assurance that he is my empathetic brother and friend.
And there is hope. “This is not the end.” he whispers.