The silence I have felt from God in the midst of darkness is one of my hard places. I see His hand protecting me. I see Him bringing freedom, restoring and redeeming. But I don’t feel him.
I don’t feel His comfort, and I don’t feel His peace.
I have known a time when God was so present I could almost touch him. I could feel His arms around me and my heart knew His delight as surely as I knew the sun would rise. Why, when I need His presence most, when I ask and pray and cry and scream for His comfort, do I feel nothing but deadening silence?
This week, the littlest and I were talking about Lazarus. He knew the story vaguely, and I told it to him again.
Mary and Martha and Lazarus were really good friends with Jesus. He loved hanging out with them, and the Bible says Jesus loved them deeply. Well one time, Lazarus got sick. Mary and Martha knew Jesus could make him better and sent a message to Jesus begging Him to come to where they lived and heal Lazarus. Jesus got the message, but he didn’t come. He waited. A couple of days later, He went to where Lazarus lived, but Lazarus had died. . .”
I told him about how Jesus cried when He saw how sad Lazarus’ sisters and friends were. And of course, I told him how Jesus had called Lazarus out of his tomb. That was the part he wanted to hear. Isn’t that the part that redeems the story? Isn’t that where we cheer and think about Jesus’ as the hero?
There is much that pricked me as I remembered this story. But circled with a red pen and highlighted in yellow were the words, “He waited.” Mary and Martha were in agony. They knew things were bad, and they feared the outcome. They had begged Jesus to come, but He waited. In fact, John says Lazarus had been dead for four days before He came. For four days, Mary and Martha longed for Jesus presence and heard only silence.
In those four days, they did not know (nor could they have perceived) Jesus was going to raise their brother. They had only their grief.
Could my darkness be like those four days?
Twice in John 11, it says Jesus was deeply moved when He saw those around Lazarus grieving. His spirit was so moved, He wept.
When I weep, it is not pretty. It is ugly, loud and gut-wrenching. It physically hurts. When the Jews saw Jesus respond with such emotion, they could only say, “See how he loved him!”
Jesus loved Lazarus. And He loved Mary and Martha. He knew the pain they would walk thru, but he still decided to wait.
This is the clearest picture of hope I have had in two years. Just because Jesus waits to make His presence felt to me doesn’t mean He does not care deeply about my heart. As I recounted the story to my littlest, a picture grew of the Father weeping at my pain. I saw Him shaking, as tears poured from His eyes, as His heart hurt with mine.
We are the lucky ones in the story of Lazarus. We get to read the end before we have to wait. We see Jesus call Lazarus out and command his grave clothes removed.
Mary and Martha, the disciples, and the multitudes overcome in grief had to walk through every minute of their hearts breaking. They didn’t get to skip to the end.
But Jesus did come. And He wept.
“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”