Many times this eludes me. Regardless of how I appear on the exterior, I am a sensitive person who gets hurt easily. However, if after the hurt occurs, an apology is given, it’s surprising how quickly I forgive and move on.
The question is–what if an apology is NOT given? What if there’s no repentance on the part of the one who does the hurting? What if the one who hurt us seems to be God himself?
These are the hard questions. Certainly God knew my sweet Daddy was suffering towards the end of his life. His pain sometimes seemed interminable, unending. We prayed for healing. Begged for healing. We stormed heaven itself with our tears.
It seemed, however, that God was silent.
When Dad became too ill to even take a short outing–to the hardware store to pick up a tool, he couldn’t bear to be on his feet more than a few minutes–my heart clouded over with resentment. Where was God? Was it any big deal for He who created Dad to simply blink an eye and restore Dad to his former health? No, it wasn’t.
Still God was silent.
My sister who used to be a missionary for Jesus, who traveled to India and Russia spreading the gospel, living on mere pennies a day, giving of her life and heart for God to the ends of the earth, prayed for my father’s healing which never came. Still, God in his heaven was silent.
So I understand Mary and Martha’s pain, I think. In John 11:2 we read, “This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.”
Oh, THAT Mary. I’m glad Luke tells us which one because there were a lot of them running around. John wants us to know that the particular Mary he’s referring to loved Jesus so much she received a special place in the Women Who Got it Right Club. She was truly affected by the words and person of Jesus and one of his closest friends.
So I’m sure when she sent word to Him that her brother (the one you love, she said) was ill, she didn’t for one moment think that he would be silent, or take His sweet time to get there.
Yet he did. Ad I’m sure Mary felt his silence as a knife in the gut.
Of course we know the end of the story. Jesus shows up. Martha came out to talk with him, but Mary didn’t. She waited inside, still hurt to the core by Jesus’s seemingly indifference. Jesus cries when he sees how hurt his friends are. He tastes their bitter grief and raises Lazarus from the dead. Everything is well.
But we who live in our time are not afforded such luxuries of divine understanding. Mary and Martha could forgive God becuase Jesus came over and fixed everything before their eyes. Sometimes he doesn’t. Then what?
This is where our faith is tested. This is where the rubber meets the road. We say we believe in Jesus; we sing hymns about trusting Him. Sometimes, in the midnight of grief, he’s there and the unasked question seems to be, “Now, even now, do you trust Me?”
It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to storm heaven with our prayers, even when we don’t get it. David prayed, “God, whom I praise, don’t remain silent.” We are not the first to experience this. In the early days of grief and suffering, it’s difficult
to remember that God is still in charge. He’s in control. He longs to wipe the tears from our eyes, and sometimes He shows up in the form of a friend. Look for Him, dear one. He’s not forgotten you.