I imagine Martha walking slowly to meet Jesus. Her tear-stained face, red and splotchy, says that her brother’s death is a grief too strong to bear. Her pain is visible in every part of her body. “Oh Lord, if you had been here,” she says, her disappointment mixed with sadness and unbelief. Inside she screams: “Where were you, Lord? If you had been here my brother would be alive.” She is certain of this truth—that Jesus would have saved her brother. That his presence would have kept death at bay.
The tension in the air hangs heavy. Jesus replies with the simple truth that her brother will rise again. But that isn’t enough for Martha’s wounded heart.
In truth, we don’t know if it would have been different if Jesus had been physically present at the time of Lazarus’s death. We have hope just as Mary and Martha did that it may have been. And yet, death is a part of our lives. We humans are in constant motion trying to determine when to hold on and when to let go. Death forces our hand and sometimes makes us let go before we’re ready.
Since a global pandemic began, we have seen so much death. We have been forced to let go of the rhythms and celebrations that draw us together. We have been crying out, “Where are you, Lord?”
Martha holds on to her hope: “Please, Jesus. God will do whatever you ask. Please.” Can we hold on to our hope that God still answers our desperate pleas? Lord, where were you? I wonder if he might respond, “I was here within you the whole time.”
Have you ever blamed God (or somebody else) for not being there when you needed them most? How did that change your relationship?
God, in our joy and sorrow, give us faith to believe that you are here, as resurrection happens all around us. Amen.