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!”
If only! This is one of the plaintive cries of humanity. When we’re wounded and broken, we look back at life before the tragedy happened and we cry out, “If only!” We try to take in the enormity of our grief that overwhelms us, we try to make sense of what has happened, and we find no answer that satisfies us. We feel wronged, we feel alone, we feel broken hearted. If only this hadn’t happened to us, if only the pain we are feeling would go away!
Mary was feeling that kind of grief. Her pain was so intense she collapsed at Jesus’ feet. Surrounded by crying friends, Mary said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Is Mary making a statement of faith, saying she believes that Jesus would have healed her brother? Or is Mary accusing Jesus of letting it happen by his prolonged absence? Maybe it’s a little of both – belief AND blame.
I can identify with Mary. I think most of us can. Many of us have been on our knees, heartbroken and in tears, wondering if God hears our prayers. Sometimes we are able to profess our faith in Jesus in the midst of suffering, even though it’s not easy to do. Other times, we blame Jesus for letting it happen, for his seeming absence from our side.
More often we feel that because we believe in Jesus bad things shouldn’t happen to us. And so we blame God for not protecting us from tragedy. But the reality is that Jesus does come to us, weeping with us, loving and comforting us. And in those tough moments, whether we profess our belief in Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life, or whether we blame God for being absent and letting it happen, Jesus still loves us. He loves us so much that he died for us. If only we could truly understand God’s wondrous love that sent Jesus to conquer death for our sake, we would know that we never weep alone!
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Being broken hearted is one of those “thin places” where the presence of God is with us in our brokenness. God weeps with us, comforts us, loves us and redeems us. When have you experienced God’s loving presence during a time of heartbreak? Have you felt God with you in prayer, or surrounded by the comfort of friends? Know that even during times of silence, God is always with you.
Prayer: Loving God, you are always with us. You weep with us in our heartbreak, and you comfort us with your presence. In times of grief, help us to believe in you and not to blame you. Help us to know we never weep alone. Amen.