32 When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. 34 He asked, “Where have you laid him?”
They replied, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus began to cry. 36 The Jews said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “He healed the eyes of the man born blind. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
Earlier in John 11:4, we hear Jesus foretell, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Later, Jesus will perform a miracle and restore Lazarus to life – but in this moment, Lazarus is dead. Everyone is heartbroken, including Jesus. But grief leads us into a deep well of emotions. Perhaps Mary was also angry. She was distraught for her brother and because Jesus was not there.
This event also speaks to the pleas we make to God in the midst of our suffering. Maybe we experience anger or sadness, thinking that we’ve been forgotten. Perhaps we find ourselves bargaining with God. We lash out: “Lord, if you were here, then this __(fill in)__ wouldn’t have happened.”
Perhaps we don’t express our truest hurts because we fear it shows a lack of reverence to God. Yet our Lord not only knows but shares the totality of human suffering. In fact, in the hours before his death, Jesus also cried out to God in anguish. His words, “Father, if it be your will, take this cup from me” (Matt. 26:39), bear witness to the many ways in which we all plead for mercy in the midst of tragedy. And on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46) In those words we hear echoes of our own.
So Jesus knows our heartbreak and all our emotions because he’s lived them too! Therefore, perhaps we can learn to trust God with the totality of our hurts. In the end, the Spirit hears and shares what is within our hearts anyway.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Jesus’ sadness for Lazarus, and later for the world, was great. He knew an earthly life filled with grief. Jesus knows the totality of our anguish. Are you reluctant to really discuss your anger with God? How have you experienced honestly sharing all of your grief with God, even when it meant sharing your anger?
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for hearing all of our hurts. Even when we express our anger to you, we know that you still love us. We know that you share our grief and losses. We know that through Jesus’ life on earth, you experienced grief too. Help us to come to you by sharing all of life’s hardships with honesty. As we walk this journey together, help us to grow in relationship with you. Amen.