Idealistic in nature, when the world is darkened by midnight theater shootings, or painfully sick friends, or lifelong struggles through devastating relationships, or the inevitable death striking final-- everything inside me twists and turns and wrenches apart. I stubbornly plant my heals down firm into the dry, cracked earth of "should be's" all the while watching in delusion as the world sinks lower and lower into the darkness of the broken.
My heart looks around and screams loud,"THIS ISN'T HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE!" but nothing breathes out except the subtle sound of giving up, "But this is how it is."
I can't watch the nightly news. I can't take it in. All that decay and destruction. Is there anything good going on in my city? Of course there is. But even the good, can it be argued that it is whole?
My insides revolt in protest as they finally quiet and settle down into momentary acceptance. I accept this marked land for now but not for forever. In the meantime I search the Gospels for Jesus. Is he anywhere to be found in his world so fractured?
The story continues with Jesus and his disciples making their way to Bethany to visit the family. In the days before Jesus' arrival Lazarus had died, been prepared for burial, and was laid to rest in the family tomb.
Let's focus on this part of the passage:
"Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was."
Jesus loved them, SO he stayed where he was? Because he loved them, he waited and allowed Lazarus to die when he could have saved him? In order for Jesus' love to be full, he allowed death, decay, and devastation when he could have prevented it?
How does this make sense? My understanding of love scoffs in the face of this love. This God love doesn't make me feel very easy and comforted. At least not right away.
Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"
The answer to the Jews' question is a resounding "Yes." Yes, Jesus could have kept this man from dying. He could have kept Lazarus from feeling pain and the sting of death. He could have protected Mary and Martha from the heart-wrenching loss of a brother. He could have prevented his own painful tears and likewise a city from mourning. He could have stopped it all. But, he didn't.
I can't explain away the world's brokenness in a blog post, or even a thousand blog posts. But in reading about Jesus this morning, I can take note of a few things.
-Jesus deeply feels the heartache of this broken world. More personally, he understands our pain and can join in our weeping over it.
-Jesus loves us too fully to prevent heartache. It is by living on the sin-marked earth that we can most clearly see our desperate need for a merciful Savior. This is not our final home. He is.
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone."... So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
Jesus loves us too fully to prevent heartache because it is most often in our pain that we see ourselves and Jesus for who we really are. He is Savior; we are not. We have no power to save ourselves, and if we try we will miserably fail. He is the most stark contrast to the evil that has pervaded our world. He is the remedy to the curse of death. He is who we need most. He is better than freedom from pain.
It is in seeing Jesus for who he is that we get the greater good. It is better for us to know destruction and get Jesus then to be free of devastation and remain blind to who our Savior is.
Could there be a greater good being worked out by a greater God?
A resounding "YES."
And the greater good has a name, and it is Jesus.
"Lord, you are good and what you do is good; teach me your decrees." Psalm 119:68
The story of Jesus and Lazarus can be found in John 11.