“I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11: 25-26
Our group was discussing showing up for one another and sharing in sorrow and celebration. How to be present even when it is awkward, uncomfortable and you don’t have a clue what to do. Our focus turned to the story in the Bible of Mary and Martha sending word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. Jesus agreed to go, but then He waited two days before going.
While He waited, death knocked on the door of the ones that He loved and snatched Lazarus away. Jesus showed up for Mary and Martha, but it was too late. Well, too late according to the sisters. Now Lazarus was dead and buried.
“If you had only been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21
I too have experienced the much too long wait. I bet you have also. have cried out for help, but He waits. And while He waits, the situation grows worse, and hope turns south as death peeks around the corner. Faith deflates and unbelief sneaks in. Disappointment and blame move into the darkness and we stand at the tomb not so sure about this Jesus who always shows up for us.
But today's reading of the story rattled me in a different way. Right there in John 11, I saw Jesus standing in the middle of all the emotions of those gathered at Lazarus’ tomb. He showed up at just the right time because there was something greater He came to reveal.
He doesn’t just show up to wave a wand and keep life from happening, He shows up to give us a greater revelation of the Father and His kingdom. He waited and he withheld to show up in their grief. He didn’t tell them what they should feel or do. He stood in the moment. Right outside the stench-filled tomb, Jesus wept with his friends. He paused and felt what they felt. I have to believe He does the same with us.
Even though He knew what was about to happen he was very present with them in the moment. They were filled with sorrow, despair, shock and yes, great disappointment. Mary’s steadfast faith believed that if Jesus had shown up in time, her brother would still be alive and healed.
It didn’t happen the way that they wanted or expected. But Jesus came and showed himself to not only be the healer, but the resurrection and life. He gave them a beautiful and powerful gift of the presence of Himself in all of His powerful glory.
Jesus knew something that Mary and Martha did not know. He always knows something we don’t know. He knew that on the other side of this death story awaited an amazing life story!
He withheld the miracle long enough to be in the moment with them, yet He knew life was awaiting to rise. He would thank his Father, call Lazarus from the grave and the dead man would come walking out.
Jesus was not overwhelmed by death for He is the overcomer of death. He wasn’t concerned about the smell that Martha was certain to point out. He stepped right into the middle of their mess, just like he does with you and me. Be encouraged today that He is right beside you. He feels with you. He grieves and celebrates with you. He shows up at just the right time longing to reveal himself in a new way.
It may not be when you want or how you want or even what you believed to be true. But with confidence I can say, He will show up and you will know that you have been in His presence. His presence always brings life out of death. He turns darkness into light and He lifts you from the depths of despair to give you new hope.
Don’t give up. He always shows up.
When we have been in His presence, then we will go take His presence to others standing in grief, disappointment, shock and unbelief. Look beside you, He stands with you. Let Him meet you and minister to you so that in turn you may go and minister to others.