I was reflecting this morning on the tragedy experienced by Naomi, Oprah and Ruth. As you continue to the read the book of Ruth, Naomi’s grief and pain from losing her two boys and her husband feels so real that my heart breaks for her (see Ruth 1:20). We have all had our seasons of tragedy. For me it’s been dealing with a sick child. The Bible does not mention how Naomi’s family received the news of her loss when she returned to Bethlehem. But, I can remember last year, around this time, some rather interesting reactions to my own crisis. My daughter, London, was sick much of 2016. In the midst of this I had a conversation with a friend regarding London’s situation. I was having a down day just hours after a less than favorable MRI result. In my sorrow, I shared the possibilities from the doctor to which he retorted, “Where is your faith!?” Oh, how those words stung. It was as if he was saying that having faith required me to have no reaction to her current suffering or feelings about what the future might hold. Today, I realize that sometimes God allows us to experience moments like this to bring TRUTH to light.
The Lord took me to the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). This is the story of Lazarus, Jesus’ friend. Jesus received word that Lazarus was ill some time earlier but chose not to go to Lazarus immediately. He arrived just days after Lazarus succumbed to his illness. We all know the story; Jesus was there to raise Lazarus from the dead. Knowing this, why was Jesus weeping? After all, He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Why then, knowing what was about to happen, would He be weeping? Did the Author and Finisher of our faith lose faith in that moment? Of course not! His tearful reaction was not because He questioned the outcome or lacked faith to raise Lazarus from the dead but rather because He knew the process to the resurrection had caused the people he loved pain. His tears were tears of compassion.
We see another illustration of an emotional reaction from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was sweating drops of blood in anticipation of what lay ahead of him. Clearly, He was feeling anxiety and fear about the cross. He described His own feelings as His soul being “overwhelmed with sorrow.” Is feeling overwhelmed and sorrowful about something horrible sin to the man who knew no sin? Of course not! He did not allow the natural human emotion of fear to stop Him from fulfilling His destiny. In spite of His fear, His faith stood when He submitted His will to The Father’s and said “nevertheless not my will but Your will be done.” (See Matthew 26:39). He knew the outcome would be that he would save all humanity, conquer death, be crowned Lord over all but the process would involve agony. No one rejoices at the thought of physical agony, not even our Savior.
The Bible says that He carries us from Glory To Glory (2 Cor 3:18). The word “to” suggests that not every situation will be glorious. But God will get us through. That is why He instructs us to love and care for one another (John 13:34). He tells us to bear with each other in love (Eph 4:2). Even tells us to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Why??? Because the journey, the process can and does cause pain. Jesus understood that in the end all would be well. His perspective on suffering was as perfect as He is. There is no condemnation in expressing feelings of fear, sadness, disappointment or frustration. Emotions are a natural human response to the trials of life. But Sisters, there is no greater faith than to acknowledge how you are feeling and press forward anyway. Just like Jesus did in the garden and Naomi did as she ventured back home. Let us not confuse walking in faith with dredging through life in denial pretending that the trials of life don’t exist. Faith is accepting where you are and what you may be faced with and, in spite of it all, standing on the truth of God’s Word and moving forward. Faith says, this hurts but God I trust You to use even this to move me closer to my destiny and ultimately for Your good. Faith causes us to profess the goodness of God in the worst of circumstances and believe that He will indeed come through. Because, He’s a good God. He takes care of His own.
Prayer for Today
Father, thank-you for the perfect example, in Jesus, of how best to endure and overcome tragedy as well as how to love the people around us through tragedy. Help us to love one another as you have loved us. Teach us to have an enduring faith that is not based on denying the situation but rather based on your love for us and Your ability to see us through. We love You and we trust You. In Jesus Name, Amen.