Monday, June 13, 2011

That Changes Everything

I just realized that Jesus wasn't weeping over Lazarus.

Maybe I'm the only one, but I always thought that the shortest verse in the Bible ("Jesus wept." -John 11:35) was about Jesus weeping because Lazarus had died.

But now I don't think so. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He knew instantly that his restoration would be for the glory of God (vs. 4). Then He waits two more days before going home to make sure Lazarus dies (vs. 6), and then He even lets his disciples know exactly when Lazarus died (vs. 11). It sounds almost heartless and cruel...and you might even quietly wonder how a loving God could allow such a thing just to validate His Son for a group of people.

And so, when Jesus finally arrived back in Judea, I always though that Jesus was finally weeping because of what Lazarus had to go through in order to be used by God to prove that Jesus was the Son of God. But after reading it this morning, I see that what broke Jesus' heart... what troubled Him, and brought Him to the point of weeping, was more than that, it was realizing that...

The people who seemed to know Him the most still didn't trust Him. And because they didn't trust Him, they lived with unnecessary grief and pain. For four long days, while Lazarus lay resting in his grave, Mary and Martha wept and mourned for their dead brother. Others came and mourned with them... broken and grieving... angry at God for not being there... for not doing something. Hurt that their brother was taken from them. You can hear the pain in their voices and almost see the tears streaming down their faces. "Lord! If You had been here, my brother would not have died" (vs. 32). God! Where were You? Why didn't you do something?! Why don't You care?? Don't You see how hurt we are? If you had been here like You should have been, this wouldn't have happened! They were emotionally destroyed.

And so, He wept. Not because Lazarus had died--because that would only be a temporary situation for a few days. But because He loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha and hated that they had been and were still hurting. It wasn't just the physical pain of sickness and death that He was grieved over, it was the emotional agony of betrayal, abandonment, and loss that they all experienced. Because, despite their intention to believe Him, despite knowing Him for years, they still didn't know God well enough to trust Him. They really trusted in what they saw. And so they lived in the emotional roller coaster of their circumstances, rather than live in the surety of His love.

The difficulty in believing and trusting God comes when we attach onto it an expectation that He will protect us from things we consider hurtful. Experiencing pain and hurt doesn't mean God has failed you. And trusting God does mean accepting that there will be things we consider hurtful along this journey of life, but realizing that the depth of God's love for us will only allow for Him to make beauty out of ashes for us.

Why is it so hard for us to believe that God really and truly only wants and is planning the best for us? You might say, "Well, pain hurts. And all that was still only for the glory of God... not for the benefit of Lazarus, Mary, or Martha." Not true... the whole point was so that they (and people around the world for centuries to come) would believe and trust in the Son of God; thereby, releasing them from that painful emotional roller coaster of living in circumstances and helping them to rest peacefully in Him and the security of His love.

Oh, if we could "grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." (Eph. 3:18) If we could, we might begin to truly trust Him. And that would change everything.


codi bennett said...

love your insight on this, sister! encouraged by the way you seek God empowers others. rock on, friend!

Hope R. Clark said...

Thanks Codi! I love it when I get to see a deeper side of Him than I saw before. Hope you are well, friend!

Chantel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chantel said...

Hope I love the parallel you drew about trusting God and the pain he feels when we don't. I really needed this word today. It's encouraged me to remember that, I am truly blessed, through the pain.

Hope R. Clark said...

I'm so glad that it spoke to you. I'm so humbled by Him. Blessings to you guys!