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When Your Lazarus Won’t Come Forth

Posted by on April 5, 2012

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
John 11:33-36

I spent several months in a relationship that began to die long before it ended. At the first signs of death, I refused to despair. I firmly believed that God could resurrect this thing if He wanted. Indeed, I still believe that, in the sense that I believe He can breathe life into any lifeless thing under the sun. But I do not believe that is always part of His plan.

A few weeks ago, I found myself praying for a very specific word – should I turn this way or that? I needed to know how to posture my heart, and whether or not seeking a certain level of closure lined up with God’s plan. And then Beth Moore posted this wonderful, heart-wrenching article, and I knew: this relationship was dead, and it had been no accident. Over the course of a few days, more clarity came, and the word I heard was crystal: the grave clothes are on, the tomb is sealed. Now mourn and move on.

Not so with Lazarus. And not so with other areas of my life, even other relationships in my life. Sometimes God calls the dead back to life. Sometimes He stands at the tombs of our hearts, tears still fresh in His eyes to see our sorrow, and He cries, “Come forth!” Other times, He simply weeps with us. I believe that our loving Father’s heart breaks to see His beloved children touched by death, by grief and pain and loss. Yet even in our grief, He begins working to see that where there is death, there is life. He knows that what went into that tomb won’t come out alive, but He knows that eventually the tomb will be empty again. And new things will spring forth.

We learn to trust Him in new ways. We learn about His mercy, His love, His tender compassion. We personally experience His touch where maybe before we’ve only heard stories of its healing power. We grow, we change, we settle a bit more deeply into our role as Beloved.

In the meantime, how it comforts me to know that He weeps with us. When the night grows quiet, He feels the searing pain that grips my heart. When you wake in the morning, and you wonder how you’ll hold it together all day, He holds you – and your sorrow. When a new memory flashes and stings hard, He sends His Word to heal, sends warriors to intercede and saints to let you know He is near.

If you’ve suffered a loss, a death – if you’re mourning at all, I pray that you will see His comforting hands stretched toward you in compassion. I pray that you will see how He loves you.

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