I have been playing the game, “This time last year …..” for over a month now. Maybe not every day, but on those days when I join in and play, I get stuck. My mind takes me back to those days a year ago which found me in a different place than today.
Maybe you play the game as well … before the illness hit. Before the job loss. Before the divorce. Before the relocation. Before … whatever pain hit your life.
We wonder if we should have done things differently. Made another choice. Prayed harder. Fasted more often. You know the drill.
Tucked in a most familiar story comes Jesus bringing His peace and comfort.
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus – beloved friends of Jesus. Lazarus becomes sick and the two sisters send word for Jesus to come. The women know that Jesus, the Messiah, is able to heal him. But instead Lazarus passes away. He dies. Jesus had taken days to come.
Upon His arrival, Jesus finds the women upset. Mary expresses herself, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32, NLT). I love how Mary speaks openly and transparently with the Lord. Even more touching to realize Jesus does not chastise her for honest feelings, nor for casting blame on Him.
It is then, tucked in the middle of this story we read:
“When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up inside of him, and he was deeply troubled.” (verse 33, NLT)
Jesus was angry but not with these dear women …
“As Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus, he isn’t just overwhelmed with sadness and grief. He’s also righteous with rage. He’s fighting mad. He’s angry at sin, suffering, disease, and most of all, death! He’s furious at these evil powers for hurting the people he loves so deeply.”
(from “Devotions of the Greek New Testament by J.Scott Duvall & Veralyn D. Verbrugge, editors, page 47)
Our Lord, Jesus, realizes our pain and is spitting mad at sickness and death and loss. His righteous anger causes Him to be moved to come quickly to our side to strengthen and comfort us in our time of grief, even as He eagerly waits for the Father’s command to return and put an end to all pain and suffering.
The day is coming when our Lord Jesus Christ will split the skies. The trump shall sound, the dead in Christ shall rise first, and those yet alive will be caught up to be with the Lord forever (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
And He will set all things right. On that day,
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4, NLT)
Oh, what a Savior!