It has been one of those weeks… or rather one of those several weeks. Water damage from a pipe that was leaking (probably for years) that has done a ton of damage to the subfloor of the kitchen and to the kitchen cabinets culminating in black mold and the loss of power to four rooms in the house. After fourteen months, our daughter Anna had another breakdown that ended up with her needing to go into a C-BAT. Insurance is already threatening to cut her care there short. We lost heat on the coldest day of the year. All of which have left us spread thin, financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
It’s a tricky business, faith. I trust what Scripture says is true:
- Psalms 9:9-10 (NIV), The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
- Isaiah 41:13 (NIV), For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
- Psalms 50:15 (CJB) Call on me when you are in trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
And when I look backwards, I can see that my Father has always kept His promises. I have no reason to doubt that this turn of events will end up being an exception.
But that doesn’t make these problems I have (or that you have) any less painful to go through. I have been learning that faith is not about making life’s headaches and heartaches free of pain. Take for instance John 11:32-37 (NIV),
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
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.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus was going to do something a bit more fantastic than keeping him from dying, He was going to bring him back from the dead! He knew that was what He was going to do, it was the whole reason He waited to go see him in the first place! But He still wept. If Jesus could be “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” by the death of His friend and the grief of Mary and Martha that He openly wept, can we really conclude that faith precludes those emotions?
However the person I identity with most in that story is Mary. Her brother was dead. To her, Jesus came too late. All her hopes of seeing Lazarus again this side of heaven had all come crashing down several days before. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
But He wasn’t there, and Lazarus did die.
But Jesus shows that there is no such thing as “showing up too late” for Him. Even death was not too much of a problem to handle. All it took was three words, “Lazarus, come out!” And with that, Jesus went from being the guy who showed up three days too late, to being the guest of honor at a party held in His honor (John 12:2).
The story provides some perspective for me. It is one of the things that Jesus is using to hold me together until He shows up to reveal how these problems are going to be solved. He always provides, always heals, and always weaves these lousy things into the very things that prove how loving, gracious, and freakishly amazing He is.
Jesus was not too late for Lazarus, or Mary, or Martha. Even though it looked that way, and even though there was no rational human reason to think otherwise. And I am bold enough (or crazy enough) to dare to believe that He will not be too late for me. Though, like Mary, I am wondering where the heck He is.