Our children have recently had their first experience with death. Really, their first major experience with God saying a resounding NO to their prayers and pleadings. They don’t understand why God would let Mama T. die if we all prayed so hard that she would keep on living. Every other time she was sick, we poured out our hearts and prayed and prayed and God healed her. Why didn’t He do that this time? I’ve heard a lot of “Why” questions.
In the moments after telling them that Mama T. had died, their questions and cries came at me fast. Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer all the questions. Why would God heal someone a few months ago and not now? I mean, I know all the “right” answers — He’s God and He knows best; His timing is always perfect; He knows and understands things our minds cannot understand. But when your heart is raw and aching, those answers just aren’t much of a balm. My spirit groaned within me for an answer, something to say to the barrage of questions. And then I heard myself say, “I don’t know. I don’t know why Mama T. died. I don’t know why God said NO to our prayers this time. But I do know that Jesus is crying with us. He gets sad when people die too.” Then I told my children the story of when Lazarus died.
John 11:33-35: Therefore, when Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.
I told my children that Jesus is troubled when He sees our sorrows. When we cry, He has compassion on us and He groans and weeps with us.
I said other things as well, but I don’t know if any of those other thoughts brought me as much comfort as this one. This image of Jesus weeping beside Mary. I wonder if He hugged her and wiped her tears as He cried with her — like I did with my daughter this morning.
In moments when people die or our dreams die or our ideas of how life would be die, our Jesus comes to us and cries with us. His spirit groans, and He weeps with us. I may run to Him and accuse Him or question Him, like Mary did — “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” But, as my friend Vickie reminds me, even my accusation and question affirms my faith in His power, in His being sovereign. And that is a form of worship. A lament. King David worshipped God with lamentations. Job did too. Jeremiah did, and his pouring out his sorrows to the Lord are even called the book of Lamentations in the Bible.
I want to be real. I want to come to God and worship Him in Truth. Sometimes that means I say things that don’t sound very church-y, that don’t sound neat and tidy and Christian. Sometimes it means I am throwing a temper tantrum and telling Him how much I don’t understand His ways. Sometimes I even sound like Mary did, “If You wanted to, You could prevent this.” And then I just weep and my spirit groans, and I know His spirit groans with me. And there aren’t really any answers, and I don’t necessarily get the happy ending that Mary got (Lazarus was raised from the dead). At least, I don’t get the immediate happy ending; eventually, I will have the eternally happy ending. But I am comforted knowing that my Jesus is crying with me. And because I know His love for me, my spirit cries out as Job’s did — “yet will I praise Him.”