I’m writing this feeling completely beaten down and torn up. I even feel forgotten by God, like my cries are going unheard. I know that my “feelings” are not reality, but they are consuming. They come from finding out my mom’s cancer has spread to her bladder, from watching her start another round of chemo, from having an awful stomach flu ravage most of my family including myself and from feeling helpless as this bug won’t release my sweet Sawyer and he gets skinnier and weaker every day. These feelings come from my exhaustion and from my litany of seemingly unanswered or even denied prayers, as I’ve begged for my mom and begged for my boys. From past experience I know that these feelings will fade, and I will see the evidence of God’s love and his constant attention again.
But what do I do in the meantime?
These feelings remind me of a Jesus story I used to really dislike. John 11 tells the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. The story’s happy ending is usually the focus, but what always bothered me is that Jesus let his friend die. Days before Lazarus’ death, his sisters Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that said, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11: 3). The ladies knew Jesus had the power to heal their brother; their faith was strong, “yet when [Jesus] heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days” (John 11:6)!
After Lazarus died, Jesus finally headed to the ladies’ side. Showing their faith and perhaps their hurt, both sisters said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21 & 32). And then, of course, Jesus raised their beloved brother from the dead.
But why didn’t he spare them their anguish and just heal Lazarus to begin with? What could have been so important that he would delay two crucial days? Why, when he’s completely capable of healing the people we love, does he not act until all hope is lost—or perhaps not even then?
I was truly dissatisfied with this story until I was listening to the wonderful song “Your Hands” by JJ Heller. She sings to the Lord, “one day you will make all things right.” I was struck with the veracity of that statement and immediately thought about the Lazarus story. True, Jesus didn’t prevent Mary and Martha’s suffering, but he did make it right for them. He brought their brother back. And before he did that, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). He didn’t scold the ladies for questioning his timing; he didn’t minimize their grief by saying, “silly girls, I’m going to raise him from the dead!” Instead, he felt compassion and empathy for their pain and cried with them.
I don’t know how Jesus will make all the suffering of the world right someday. But I believe he will. We may not get to see it in a glorious “man-rising-from-the-dead" kind of way, but someday when all in heaven and earth is said and done and the prophecies of Revelation have come to pass, he will have made all things right.
So, I try not to seek too much understanding or form any faith-changing beliefs during these dark times. I hold onto the fact that there is proof of Jesus’ love for me all around—my children, my husband, my family, my friends, my students, my wonderfully strong mama and her faith. And even though the darkness is blinding me to a lot of that right now, Jesus is weeping with me.