“Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died!”
Words like these expressed by two early followers of Jesus have been on the minds of many during this global COVID-19 pandemic. With diagnoses on every continent, thousands of deaths and the lives of billions disrupted, this sentiment is relevant more than ever.
Where is Jesus in this horrific crisis? How do we seek Jesus and His followers with churches closed and the loss of fellowship? Jesus’ engagement with these two early followers reveals three responses to the crisis we are facing.
Martha and Mary, two of the most devout followers of Jesus, urgently requested the miracle worker’s presence and intervention on behalf of their dying brother, Lazarus. This seemed to be such a reasonable request. The women had hosted Jesus in their home and supported His ministry. Lazarus was not only their brother, but a close friend to Jesus. Jesus was nearby and yet, he waited and stayed silent until Lazarus’ death.
Like many of us today, Martha and Mary were desperate for their loved one to be healed and were bewildered why Jesus seemed to fall out of sight. Their grief was overwhelming, and this tragedy seemed unexplainable. What they did next is instructive for us.
Lament the Loss of Life
The sense of grief we read in the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John is palpable. We read of Mary, Martha, their family and friends, all emotionally devastated over the loss of Lazarus. Their grief was revealed in their lament: “Lord if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” A lament is a “passionate expression of grief and sorrow” that is welcomed throughout the Scriptures. In Psalms 13:1, David, as he does in many places, cries out “How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever?”
I recently traveled to Argentina and five other countries to film the docuseries IN PURSUIT OF JESUS which explores how people see and encounter faith through their personal and cultural experiences. In Argentina, I discovered the national tragedy that occurred in the 1970’s and 1980’s when there was a seized power government take over.
More than 30,000 Argentines were kidnapped, tortured and assassinated. Those lost are known as the “disappeareds”. We know of their plight because their courageous mothers and grandmothers publicly lamented on their behalf, despite fears of the possible deadly consequences. Their lament was not just an emotional release, but a call to change the crisis.
We are called to use the awareness of lamenting to defeat this current crisis. This has always been what lament entails. Martha, Mary, and the mourners were following a long tradition of lamenting, not only to each other but to the God they believed in, but often failed to understand. So, they confronted Jesus with their lament: “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”
Did you know that Jesus welcomes us approaching him with such statements? If you find yourself asking “How long will this last?” “Why are you allowing this?” “How can this be in your plan?” you are being very biblical in your process of lament.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Rasool Berry