In God’s Time
Dear friends on the journey,
I’m sitting with today’s gospel feeling overwhelmed by the theological depth in the story of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead, a story with a plethora of characters, emotions, dialogue, actions, and themes. We could fill hours, days and weeks discussing each one. We can focus on the obvious theme of death, new life and resurrection, or just grief and suffering. The faith of Lazarus’ sister Martha who believes Jesus is the Messiah is an entire conversation. We could spend time on this miracle being Jesus’ last and its significance to his own passion, death and resurrection. One page could not do justice to the importance of this gospel.
I did what I do every week in Gospel Hangout, namely using the prayer form Lectio Divina to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me. She pointed me right to the line about Jesus waiting for two days before traveling to Judea. On the surface, it seems a little heartless for Jesus to hear that his dearest friend Lazarus is ill and not rush to his bedside, but rather wait two days all the while knowing that travel time would delay him further. Lazarus was dead and buried for four days by the time Jesus arrived. This behavior is not like Jesus at all.
We know that Jesus is not at all cold, heartless and uncaring. Jesus is God after all so he must have had a good reason for delaying. After prayerful reflection, I wondered if God is giving me a message, a lesson that my time, our time, is not God’s time. So often, we want certain things, a particular way, right now, or at a precise time. In addition, when things do not work out the way we want, we wonder if God even cares. When our prayers seem unanswered, we wonder if God forgot our address. When suffering comes upon us, we wonder how God could let it happen.
Have you ever wondered where God was in a particular situation? Did it seem like God was absent in your suffering? I have. How could I become a mom at 17? How could I lose three grandparents in six weeks? How could my parents have cancer at the same time? Lord, please explain this to me.
Lazarus’ sister Martha exemplifies the faith with which we are to live. Faith calls us in these times to lean ever more firmly on trusting in God’s wisdom and timing. Faith challenges us to accept life’s mysteries, especially those with no answers. Faith invites us to believe that God has us in his palm, even when we do not feel it. Faith gives us hope that God just might have a better way for us, that each suffering and trial could very well be a “death” in us that opens us to a new opportunity, a new life.
I encourage you to sit with this gospel this week. Put yourself in this story and reflect on your own faith story. Is it firm or needs some attention? What needs to die in you?
What might God be doing in seemingly unanswered prayers? What healing do you want from Jesus? Imagine what God has cooking for you in his time.
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