Thursday, July 5, 2012

LORD, If You Had Been Here

"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?" (John 11:32-37)

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"LORD, if You had been here..." How many of us have thought that very same thing? Of course, Jesus is there, always present with us. And we still get sick, and we still get hurt, and we still die. We still weep. So did Jesus. The fact that Jesus wept at His friend's death gives me enormous comfort. Jesus knew without any shadow of any doubt at all that in literally a few minutes, He would raise Lazarus from the dead Himself. Jesus knew He would talk to His friend again, that Lazarus' family would be with him again, that their pain would end, and still, He was moved to the point of tears.

Sometimes I wonder, with all my education and Christianity and whatnot, why am I so bitterly sad if I believe in heaven? If I know my salvation is secure? Am I a bad Christian? Do I doubt Jesus' love? Do I doubt that any of this ever really happened? Sometimes, sure, to a point. I'm not perfect after all, and neither is my faith, no matter how many books I read and prayers I say. But what Jesus' weeping at Lazarus' death shows us is that we are so bitterly sad because it simply HURTS. Period.

What's "it"? It is sin. Sin and all its consequences. Death hurts. Sickness hurts. Life hurts. Living here in this fallen world when we belong in heaven hurts us so powerfully that even with absolute, perfect certainty of the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to come, even with complete control over life and death, none of us―not even Christ Himself―can help but weep.

Strangely enough, permission to feel sadness in the midst of my joyful salvation leads my spirit to be less troubled, and my tears to be less bitter. It's not always the sinful, selfish side of us that's weeping for the death of someone we love more than our own life, or that weeps for our own pain and illness and misfortune. We weep for the same reason Jesus wept: because we are painfully aware that things are other than they ought to be. But not for long.

Our hearts are able to break because we are able to love. We are able to love because God loved us first (1 Jon 4:19). These fragile hearts of ours are a gift. It's sin that breaks them, and it's God who binds them up again. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted because He WAS the brokenhearted. Follow Jesus' example: be moved to tears... for now.

Suggested verse to repeat to yourself if it's a difficult day is Psalm 34:18a
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
“The LORD is near -------> 5 count inhale
to the brokenhearted.” -------> 5 count exhale

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