Resurrection as Beginning
New Testament professor, Dwight Peterson, shares about anger, grief, and the hope that there is something beyond the grave. Perhaps the only way to live well is to understand how to die well.
Questions for Reflection
Peterson is asked “Are you mad at God?” He responds, “Sometimes I’m mad. I mean, how can you not be? Upset and all, I’m losing. Upset and all of what I had to live through. Upset of bad decisions I’ve made because of being in a wheelchair. ”When have you been angry at God?
Peterson says that he finds it to be a gift from God not to “hold onto anger”: “I was always sort of comforted by the idea that whatever was happening, however painful it was, that God was with me.” However, Peterson is not critical of anger toward God. “There are whole Psalms in the Psalter that consisted of people yelling at God,” he comments. What are some examples of Psalms that share their anger toward God? How can “giving our whole selves to God” also include anger?
Peterson reflects, “I think I hurt for other people’s pain more than I hurt for my own.” Peterson recalls a friend’s wife going through chemotherapy, and an aunt who is affected by Alzheimer’s. Peterson says “Christianity does not ignore the pain in the world,” but there is also the “eschatological promise” that “someday all tears will be wiped dry.” How does this hope that is given in the future something that might provide us comfort in the present?
Peterson is asked, “What hope are you finding through the pain?” Peterson responds, “I’ve been formed to believe in the gospel, and part of the gospel is that this world is not the end.” He alludes to planning his own funeral and picking out the hymns of praise and many people “holding up in [his] own, sometimes, unbelief that this world is not the end.” How can we gain confidence that “this world is not the end”?
Peterson tells a story of an uncle died in 1990s whose name was also “Dwight.” He describes the image of family and friends having “their hands on the [casket]” telling stories and joking about uncle Dwight. Peterson says it was a “lovely vignette of an beloved uncle who had died. It was sad that he had died; we were all sad he had died, and yet we all knew that was not the end of his story. That was not the end of our story.” How would you write your own eulogy? How might you allow people to grieve for you, but also say that your death is not the end to your story?