The Presence of God…in uncertain times
April 01, 2020|
by Karen Treat
Gospel John 11:39-45. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
This is just a portion of the lesson that is meant for this coming Sunday in Lent. It is a powerful segment of Jesus’s ministry and a turning point in his life on earth. Jesus takes a long, slow trek to help his friend Lazarus who is sick, and who dies before Jesus gets to him. When Jesus arrives, people are grieving, angry he took so long, and even Jesus is filled with emotions. We find ourselves confused. Did he let Lazarus die on purpose to prove a point? Was this all necessary?
I find this to be a rich text. I like the emotions of it. It is raw and it is human. It is how we often feel when don’t know what is happening, when the worst seems to be the answer, and trust is not the focal point of our hearts.
This new pandemic brings us to uncertainty. What is taking so long to make this thing stop? Why doesn’t it seem that God is intervening? A great sense of powerlessness is felt by most of us.
What I love most in this story is Jesus conversation to God. He thanks God for listening to him. Did he think God wouldn’t listen? He says he knows he does, but does he kind of doubt. Just a little. Why else acknowledge with gratitude? And, then he goes forward with the request. Bring Lazarus back from the dead. Show the people who you are.
In our lives, we don’t ask God to raise from the dead, but we do ask for answers to confusion and despair. We want signs of Presence.
What if we saw the signs? How would it look?
How do we feel and see God right now? I like to think God shows up in the sounds of the birds returning from their winter homes. Or, a call from a family member. A note from a friend. A wave from a neighbor as we walk by on our evening walk. A yummy meal. They can be the revelation of God’s presence with us. The answer to uncertainty.
Jesus revealed to us in this story, we can doubt and we can ask. We can be thankful. And, we can see God is in it all with us. It is still the season of Lent and we are not far from Holy Week and Easter. We are journeying to the cross. Not a lot of fun given our current situation. And, it is clear we are not alone. We can trust that in our bones.