“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” He asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” – John 11:33-36
Like you, I live in a place where death is all around me. They are the walking dead. Spirits completely cut off from the God who made them and is earnest that they be restored to Him. He knew no one could get back to Him after the great and burdensome lies of anxiety, fear, conflict, shame, mistrust and alienation set themselves up as impenetrable roadblocks. No one could leap over the miserable mess or trudge through it or pretend it all did not exist. No one could get back to the Papa’s embrace. No one could take it all on. And the Papa knew that, so He sent His son to bear the load and clear the way. What good Papa would send his own for the sake of many to settle the payback?
But He did. And the deliciousness of it melts my heart. But, like I said, I live where the dead walk. I am in the Papa’s embrace, but they cannot even look over the heap of sin to see the arms that are holding out for them. I see those arms everywhere. When He carries me through the streets and over the mountains I feel His arms are long enough to hold me and still lift them up too. But they can’t see. And they can’t hear. And they can’t even want.
My words that cannot yet speak their language, are too short and small. My startling image being so tall and so blond, must speak that I am some American heiress, my wallet full and my opportunities vast. Quite the contrary.
There are days when it all seems too much and it feels that my presence here is for naught. I want to get riled up inside and run outside preaching. I want to shake upside down the bodies of the “upper class” and see what falls out of them–would their souls come crashing to the ground, hollow or filled with stories they dare not tell? I want to snatch up every child I see on the street and kiss the feet of precious, poor wrinkled Indian women sitting on the side of the road selling a basketful of seeds. I want to throw a rock at the windows of the sleek cars that drive right by the ragged children and the old women. And when I pray with a woman in a village who looks at me listlessly out from her hole of depression and kiss her check, I want her healed, in Jesus’ name!
Oh God! Where are you? Really, you could do so much more.
You could even set me aflame like your torch so I could do so much more.
I pick up the pink student bible I used as a teen until my early marriage. Sometimes I reach for it because it has no study notes and maps to get engrossed in. Only the raw Word. “Turn to John 11”, You say. Strange, I think. I know that is the story of Mary and Martha and Lazarus. What does this have to do with the rumblings in my interior landscape?
I read. Again. Again. And then again. Slower. Outloud. Standing up, pacing. My children’s voices outside my room fade in their happy play. My husband is in a village 45 minutes away in meetings with the mayor to discuss the digging of a new cistern. Just me and the God of the universe. Whoa.
Jesus, He knew Lazarus was going to die. He knew that He loved him and that sisters Mary and Martha loved him. He finally goes to them, walks and walks to where they are even though He knows that so many along the way and so many there are not too keen about Him. When Martha learns that Jesus is coming, she runs out to meet Him. Mary doesn’t bother. Drat. I am always like that Mary.
Martha laments to Jesus that if He had been there, her brother would still be alive. They have a brief and potent conversation where Jesus establishes His identity and Martha confesses its truth. Always crucial in any hard place — remember and confess Jesus.
Jesus calls for Mary. Mary runs to Him. Again, like me, dear Mary. She says to Him the same thing her sister did, but no conversation takes place. It is all too much for her, her knowledge of who Jesus is and what could have been and she breaks down, sobbing. Her tears mean something; her sobbing is a language for which there can never be any words.
Jesus could have gotten on with it and showed her what He could do–go raise the man to life! Take away all the grief! Don’t dwell in compassion, move on to action! Go, Jesus! Show the glory! Show it!
Jesus is deeply moved in spirit and troubled. I pause. There is more action here than I realized and it is important. “Thank you, Yeshua”, I whisper. I have read the passage dozen of times before but today it meant something to me that He wept. He wept.
There was death and He hated it. There was grief and it troubled Him. There was love and it moved His Spirit. So He joined the small crowd of weepers and I imagine sat down next to them and wiped His eyes on his shirt and blew His nose on a leaf He grabbed off a nearby tree.
What is the point of weeping? Especially if you’ve got the power to do something? I need to know.
“You don’t weep over something that has no value.” Yes. No one weeps over a bag of garbage. And Satan thinks we are all trash bags. He never weeps over us. He never stops and sits next to us in our human condition and this story we are all in and cries. But the Father of compassion and the God of all kindness (2 Cor. 1), does. Because He loves.
That means something. That is warfare. That’s a stance. That’s a shout! That’s beautiful.
“We are at the weeping place together, my daughter. I am sitting next to you, I am driving with you, I am walking with you and I am weeping with you as your spirit is deeply moved and troubled. But keep believing! I am getting to those living graves all around you, I’m coming! I’m coming! And when I say, “come out” those dead are going to come out and you are going to rip off those grave clothes and let them go free.”
“But for now, we are weeping together, you and I.”
Sometimes, yes sometimes, we are the weepers and wailers, announcing to the forces of evil and to the apathetic all around us that there are some things, there are some people worth our tears. Worth the Holy Spirit crying through us. Worth our being deeply moved and troubled. Positioned in this strange and seemingly unproductive assignment, we display the heart of God.
And God, this is the God who will not stop with the weeping. Not until there is resurrection.