Because of these beautiful words in my inbox from a friend who understands grief… “John makes it clear that Jesus delays because of His love for Mary and Martha. The Spirit makes it clear to me that His delay in my own circumstances was (and continues to be) rooted in His love for my soul. My head understands this; my heart is a bit slower to catch on.” I thought of this post I wrote years ago. A post I struggle to believe today. My heart is slower to catch on, too, but this is still true.
In John 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. He enters in to the grief of his friends Mary and Martha. He weeps. Then He moves miraculously and brings their brother back to life. I’ve always been struck by His heart, His tenderness. He knew where He was going with this. He knew when He was first told Lazarus was sick what would happen. He knew He’d be demonstrating Gospel power and raising Lazarus from the dead. He knew all that would happen, all the good things He was going to bring to that home, yet He took the time to sit with them in their grief.
I love this. A Savior Who could look at us and say, “See? See how I have it all under control? See my power? See my mighty hand? See that I am God?” But He chooses to grieve, to feel their pain, to feel His own pain, to know the sting of death.
I’ve always focused on that act of love. His heart for His friends.
But grieving with them and raising Lazarus from the dead aren’t the only acts of love in this passage.
How did I miss this?
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. When He heard therefore that Lazarus was sick, He stayed two days still in the same place where He was. (vs. 5-6)”
He knew Lazarus was sick. He knew He would heal Lazarus for the glory of God.
He loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus.
So He stayed two days.
He loved… so He stayed.
He knew His friends were hurting. He knew His friend was sick. He knew Lazarus would die.
Yet He stayed His hand… out of love.
“Love?” I want to ask, “Wouldn’t love have raced to the rescue and healed His friend and spared Mary and Martha the ache of losing a loved one? How could this be love?”
But I know the answer before I even ask the question…And I see once again that it is just as He has done with me, with my family, with my friends. It is not just simply because He knows best and He knows beyond what we see, although that is all true.
It is because suffering has a loving purpose, too.
Suffering molds, sanctifies and grows, and in His love, my Father, my Savior, my Lord has allowed me to walk through years of physical suffering.
In His love… a love that allows pain.
A love that sees far beyond what I can see. A love that has sometimes stayed its hand when I begged for relief, but a love that has also moved to my rescue, not just physical rescue, but rescue from death because of His own death and resurrection.
“Who can estimate how much we owe to suffering and pain?…Where was faith, without trial to test it; or patience, with nothing to bear; or experience, without tribulation to develop it?” (L.B. Cowman)
He allows suffering, yet sits and grieves with me in it.
Such love, y’all… such love.