As I go through life, I occasionally chance upon an opportunity to try to raise the dead. In most cases the body is an animal, but at times an opportunity presents itself with a human as well. Whether man or beast, a primary issue that comes up is whether or not to even attempt a resurrection–everything else is secondary.
When deciding to attempt to raise the dead, I have a few main criteria. The first is time: Do I have the time I will need to give a fair attempt at resurrection? I prioritize humans over animals, so I am willing to rearrange more of my life and cancel other commitments if a human dies. Although I dearly love animals, I am not willing to do the same with them in most cases. Additionally, this means I will spend far more time praying for humans to resurrect than animals, although I believe that time-spent is an important factor in whether resurrection will be successful or not.
My second criteria is the amount of time that has passed: How long have they been dead? God does not limit how long someone can be dead before they are resurrected, but we also need to consider practical life-circumstances involved. At least in the USA, there are laws and statutes in regards to managing and burying dead bodies. Additionally, I have no intention of keeping rotting animal corpses in a pile in my back yard on the off-chance that one of them will eventually resurrect. I have a three-day policy for dead animals, but with humans it just varies depending on the situation. Why three days? It’s a practical number, not a spiritual one–we have worked out an arrangement that I don’t keep dead animals around for more than three days–thus, total time lapsed does play a part, at least for me. Day 1 is the day I find them and I am interested and engaged. Day 2 I am usually still pretty engaged. Day 3 my wife is asking me how much more time I am going to give this before I give up (if she hasn’t already asked me on Day 2), and at this point the animal’s body is starting to show some more obvious signs of breakdown. In the case of a human, I should note that air conditioning, embalming fluid, and other related factors play a part in lengthening the time before decay is noticeable, and this makes it a little easier to extend the time for prayer–at least in the U.S.A.
My third criteria is access: Do I have the ability to pray over the actual body? Do I have a family member that I can get permission from? People die every day–what separates the ones I plan to pray for from the ones I don’t pray for is whether someone is involved in the resurrection attempt. It is literally that simple.
My fourth criteria is cost: Is it going to be worth it to resurrect this person? This is probably the most difficult pill to swallow for some, and I struggle internally over this one at times, but it’s a practical consideration that I believe must be addressed, at least at this point given our limited-but-growing success in resurrection as the Church. Let me give a personal example. My grandfather died in the beginning of 2015. My grandfather lived on the opposite side of the United States when he died, didn’t believe in divine healing, and I never went to pray for him before he died for him to be healed. Most of my family are believers, but very few of them believe firmly in resurrection, and between my mom and her four siblings, my step-grandmother, all of my cousins, second cousins, etc., most of them were present at the funeral. Attempting to resurrect him would have created so many issues in the family–both with my parents as well as the grand number of other people I just listed, that I personally was not willing to pay the cost for something I wasn’t very emotionally invested in to begin with.
Counting the cost is an important part of the resurrection criteria–and in some cases I think it might actually be the most important part. In Luke 14:28-30 Jesus said “’Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.”” It is unreasonable and unwise to consider resurrection if we do not first count whether we are willing to take the potential consequences that come with our efforts.
I know a woman whose husband died a number of years ago. She lives in a small town and everyone knew about it by the time she had to call it quits on the resurrection effort. She is still believing for her husband to be raised, but things were never the same for her after she took a stand and stepped out in faith believing in God’s promise of abundant life, and it has had a not-entirely-positive impact on her relationships with those in her community. I do not say this to scare people off, but to be clear up front that it’s not all roses, puppies, rainbows, and unicorns when we step out in faith attempting resurrection, and there are real-life risks and issues we need to be aware of and prepared for as best as we can.
While I am not fearful of risk, per se, each situation is different, and this is where wisdom and discernment come into play. It is always God’s ultimate will for each person to experience abundant life and to never die–Jesus paid for it and stated multiple times in the gospel of John that his will was for people to never die and live forever. We never have to question God’s will in that regard, but in spite of this idealistic and highest reality that we strive for, we must walk out the journey with wisdom, which includes counting the cost in advance where possible.
If you want to learn more about how to raise the dead, or are interested in joining communities of believers online who are passionate about resurrection and the abundant life of Christ, please consider the following links and resources: