Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” John 11:43-44
I love the story of Lazarus because, well…Jesus raises a dead man from the grave. I mean …what’s not to love?
But, what should you do when death doesn’t rise? What should you do?
What should I do?
Almost every post I’ve written over the last 9 months has been penned from a place of deep pain and desperate hope. Living in the shadows of Heaven’s silence. Lazarus getting sicker and sicker and still, no Jesus. Mary and Martha panicking and praying their guts out.
“Where’s the miracle? Why hasn’t Jesus come? When is He coming? Why, of all things, is my brother getting worse? So much worse?”
Like Lazarus’ sisters, these are the honest questions that I’ve cried out to God and wrestled with everyday. Every single day of my brother’s troubling illness.
While there is much I won’t pretend to understand, this I know: God has used this painful season to teach me to come alongside, more intimately, the suffering of others…those precious ones grieving the loss of a marriage…a dream…a family as family was intended to exist. And, this I also know…my intimacy with Christ has grown in breadth and depth beyond all confines.
These are all good things. I know that. Redemptive things. And, I’m grateful for each one. I am. I really am. But, the reality in which I now find myself is that…
I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas this year…or the last three years, for that matter. I fasted, prayed, worshiped, wept…even slept with my Bible night after night. For three long years my heartcries only became more dramatic as each day passed and still…no “visible” or “tangible” answers. No healing. Nothing.
We tried everything to save my brother. Did everything. Prayed everything. And, still…so much pain and suffering. Too much. Everyday, his mental condition robbing him of dignity. Stripping him bare.
Every conversation…hearing him slip further away from me, the way a song slowly fades down low, until it comes to a silent end. And then…just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse…Heaven’s silence grew all the more deafening.
On December 11th, I got the one thing for Christmas that I never, EVER wanted.
Since Jay’s passing, I’ve found myself floundering in a greater measure of grief than I ever thought possible…the loss of his young life sucking the breath from my chest. My heart throbbing hot with the stark realization that his pain became far too much for him to bear, even for one more moment.
A pain he could not express, nor contain.
God, how can this be? While I know Jay is at rest in Heaven’s peace now, the reality of things gone seemingly awry has turned me upside-down and inside-out. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. His healing was supposed to happen on THIS side of Heaven, not the other.
I share this with you as I weep and grieve and groan–the computer screen blurred by endless tears–only because I know that God never intended us to hide our wounds–as much as we might like to–especially when they’re gaping wide open and bleeding out all over. Jesus didn’t try to cover up His blood. Instead, His blood covered all.
No doubt you’re longing for healing to happen on this side of Heaven too, as were we. That’s what drew most of you to our blog and to our marriage restoration story from the very start. But, as one year closes and another begins, we’re faced with learning to live out the sobering fact that…
Sometimes Jesus comes before death…
Sometimes Jesus brings life after death…
But, sometimes...death just comes. And stays.
Death has come and it is staying and amidst all my fighting and flailing, I know that I know that I know that I will drown in the massive waves of grief unless…
He trains my eyes and I strain my eyes…not to look, but to see. Because when I let God take me beyond the looking and into the seeing, I realize that…
Jesus did come.
I only know this because in the days since I got the one thing for Christmas that I never ever wanted, I’ve seen Jesus in unfathomable ways:
Jesus came in the person who left a candle on the porch of our childhood home.
Jesus came in the neighbor who consoled my father’s grief.
Jesus came in the memorial symbols that were definitely ALL THINGS JAY.
Jesus came in the sojourner who held me as I wept.
Jesus came in the smudgy sentiments of little hearts laid bare.
Jesus came in the dear ones who lent us hands and feet.
Jesus came in my Grammy, who wore Jay’s treasure with honor.
Jesus came in the red and green, hung against our mourning drab.
Jesus came in the sunlight, through the windows of the chapel.
Jesus came in the flowers, carried one-by-one.
Jesus came in the faces of the mourners, standing room only.
Jesus came in Hope’s candlelight, soft and glowing.
Jesus will come again.
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