standing on the edge of our grief | John 11.20-27
So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:20-27 | ESV
Someone had slipped in among that somber crowd and whispered to Martha that Jesus was almost there, and as soon as she heard that, she quickly left the house, while Mary stayed put.
It wasn’t exactly a happy meeting.
When Martha intercepted Jesus en route, the first thing out of her mouth was, “Lord (((where were you???))) if you were here, my brother wouldn’t be dead right now! But I still believe, I still know that whatever you ask, God will be right there on the spot with an answer.”
Jesus responds, “Your brother will rise from the dead.”
“Of course he will,” Martha replied, “at the end of time, at everyone’s resurrection.”
“I am the resurrection and the life, period! When someone trusts in me, puts it all on the line for me, death is but one stop before the final destination of life – and death will never, ever keep anyone with such a heart of trust in me from that ultimate destination of life. So what about you, do you believe this – do you trust it?”
“Yes, Lord, I do!” she insists, “this is where I’ve taken my stand – that you are the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Son of God, making your grand entrance into the world.” MAV
Friends flocked to the side of the two grieving sister hearts, consoling, comforting, trying to make them (and no doubt themselves) feel better. But it’s Life showing up on the corner that draws the sisters out, one at a time.
What could this meeting be but awkward?
What do you say to the Lord who has so deeply disappointed you?
What do we say to anyone who has deeply disappointed us?
It speaks volumes that the sisters did get up and go to him.
And isn’t that interesting: He stood on the edge of the village waiting for them to come to him.
He could have made a grand entrance.
He could have raised Lazarus first and then presented him alive with a divine, “Tada!”
But he stands out there on the edge of their grief.
Come when you’re ready.
Once again, the one who was entitled to the Messiah complex is the only one who doesn’t have it.
Christ doesn’t barge into our grief and loss, tidying us up and fixing it, fixing us. He stands on the edge of our grief, leaving the initiative with us, his very presence there inviting us to step out of our circle of grief.
But when we are ready, and not before.
Oh the things we can learn from Christ…
What is the deepest, most profound grief you have experienced? How did you process it? Who was present to console you? How did you (if you did) experience God in the midst of your grief?
Abba, I tend to look for you with a splash right in the middle of what is going down in my life, hopefully with a ready fix in hand. Make me aware of your presence on the edge of my life, inviting me to step out.