Resurrection is sometimes incorrectly seen as an affirmation of the immortality of the soul – that there is something in us which death cannot destroy. This view owes more to Greek philosophy than biblical revelation. The biblical writers did not see body and soul as separate entities, but as a whole which was wholly destroyed in death. A biblical understanding of the resurrection is that Christ really died, body and soul, and that God raised him from death.
For people coming to terms with childlessness, as for all those who grieve, this knowledge has tremendous power. Because Christ really died, we do not have to tell childless people that what they have lost does not really matter. We do not have to attempt to cheer them up with banalities about disposable income and holidays. We can accept that, for them, hope has been obliterated. And because Christ was raised from death, we can hold out the hope that their terrible loss can and will be raised too. Resurrection may come partly in the acceptance that they may reach once they have fully grieved their loss. Resurrection may come as new things grow in the garden of resurrection – new possibilities, projects, interests and plans. Ultimately, I suspect grieving people will experience resurrection in all its fullness only when Christ comes again and death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15.54). If God can raise my material body from death, decay, cremation; if God can raise my personality, my idiosyncrasies, my talents and weaknesses; if God can raise everything that I am from the dead, because God wants to, because God is love: then God can and will raise my broken hopes and dreams. God can and will raise my childlessness.
Extract from chapter two of A Pastoral Theology of Childlessness, available to preorder here.