s I wrote in my previous post, we’ve been struggling lately. I’d like to use the Watermark vernacular – “struggling well” – but I’m not sure that’s true for me right now. Struggling no doubt. Well? Maybe not. At least not always. I’ve been angry. I’ve treated people poorly. I’ve stopped following up with people. And I’ve cursed like a sailor lately. Not always out loud, but definitely in my mind. So, struggling, but not well.
Today I read a tweet in which the writer suggested that “no matter what you’re going through right now, God is doing it for his glory.” Similarly, about 15 minutes or so after I first found out about this difficult thing we’re going through, a friend reminded me that “God is sovereign.” I know that both of these things are true. I’m counting on them. These two concepts – God’s glory and his sovereignty – are keeping our heads above the waterline right now. But reading them and hearing them didn’t help one bit. The fact is, when you’re struggling with a difficult situation – statements like “this is all for God’s glory” don’t help. Even though they’re true and they are absolutely life sustaining in times like this, they just don’t help. Why? You want to know why, right?
I do to. I’ve been thinking about this today and it’s been a struggle. I know that people want statements like these to be helpful. I know that their intentions are great. I think the problem is this – these statements land hard on a hurting heart. I know that they aren’t meant to, but they do. I can’t help but think about John 11. Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus is ill. He states very clearly to those around that this will not end in death but that it is happening for Jesus’ glory to be revealed. This is true of course, but note that he didn’t say that to Mary or Martha. So, Jesus waited around two days, presumably giving Lazarus time to die, and then he left for Bethany. When he got there, four days after Lazarus’ death, Martha ran out, “Lord, if you’d been here my brother wouldn’t have died.” Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” And Martha believed him. Then he met Mary. She said the same thing Martha did, “Lord, if you had been here sooner, he wouldn’t have died.” And Jesus saw her weeping and it says that he was “deeply moved in his spirt and greatly troubled.” And he asked them where they had lain Lazarus’ body, and they showed him. And then we get to verse 35. Every Sunday School kid’s favorite memory verse. The verse I’m clinging to in all of this.
Jesus wept. John 11:35.
When Jesus saw Mary weeping, he was moved with compassion. He knew what he was about to do. He’d already told Martha. He’d told his followers that this was going to be for his glory. He was so worried about Lazarus that he stayed an extra couple of days just to make sure. But when he saw Mary and her friends weeping, he wept with her. He wept with them. Here’s the point – when everything is falling apart and people’s hearts are crushed, they don’t need to hear about God’s sovereignty. They don’t need to hear about his glory. They need the hands and feet of Christ to see them weeping and to weep with them.
I’ll be completely honest. I’m a fixer. I’m so ready to fix people who are hurting. I want to get in there and help them. I don’t want to cry with them. It’s just too hard. I don’t want to join them in their pain. But God does. May I never forget that. May I never forget to sit and weep with my friends when they are hurting. May I never try to fix them.
I’m so thankful for our friends who’ve rallied around us in the past week. Nobody had this on their todo list for this week. But our friends, especially our community group, have sat in this with us. When we’ve asked for advice or help, they’ve given it. But they’ve also just sat with us, in difficult meetings and sad quiet places. One sweet saintly friend came to our house unannounced, dropped off groceries, picked up all our kids laundry and quietly left. She returned it all neatly folded the next day. She didn’t have to do that. We could have made it through without it, but that act blessed us, especially Desi, in ways that we won’t soon forget.
So, don’t think that we haven’t had people with us in this. We most definitely have. They’ve helped make this bearable. Not through their words, but through their presence, their kindness, and their tears. I’ll never forget that.