When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” ~ John 11:32 NLT
Brad and I were about to leave his office at church one Sunday when an acquaintance stepped in. She immediately expressed she had been praying for us since she heard of Brad’s cancer returning. Before either of us could thank her for being so thoughtful, her next words simply stunned me.
“If only you had believed more, the cancer would not have come back.”
“Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
In my grief, one of my most troubling emotions was that of feeling betrayed. I had waited expectantly until nearly the very end of Brad’s life, believing and trusting Jesus would come in time. Didn’t I pray continually and with expectant love for my Savior, night and day? “Lord, didn’t you hear me calling for you?”
I wanted desperately to understand, why God didn’t come and rescue us as He had before when we prayed for healing.
“Jesus, If only you had come...my husband would not have died”
During those first weeks after my husband’s death, my thoughts occasionally considered the ridiculous comment made that Sunday morning months before;
“If only you had believed more (Kathy), the cancer would not have come back.”
Was it really possible Lord, you disregarded my pleading prayers and allowed Brad to die because I failed to believe more? Were those fearful moments of doubt I had when Brad’s cancer didn’t respond to treatments the reason you didn’t come and heal him?
Thankfully the Lord did not allow me to sit in that mess of thoughts for long! I was encouraged through reading God’s Word in Luke 22:44;
“He (Jesus) prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”Jesus, who obviously knew how to pray and be heard by our Father in Heaven, never doubted His prayers were heard. Jesus, certainly “believed more” when He prayed; “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me…” God did not allow Jesus to suffer the cross because Jesus didn’t “believe more.” Jesus suffered the cross because God knew it was necessary.
It is my prayer that each of you who have lost a loved one, will allow yourselves whatever time you personally need to grieve. Do not be discouraged because you grieve so deeply and the pain is hard to bear.
When my sorrow seems too great, it helps me to remember that Jesus deeply grieved the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus didn't cry because He felt "sorry" for Mary & Martha...He cried because He felt the same deep cut of separation that death causes our hearts to feel. While Jesus' tears fell from His eyes, He knew He would soon be raising his beloved friend from the dead and back to life; yet Jesus cried anyway, because death hurts!
Jesus grieved with hope.Thankfully, your grief and mine also have this same thread of hope running through ours, because we know Jesus defeats death and conquers the grave. When I fix my eyes towards the goal of Heaven and the joyous reunion there will be the moment I arrive on the arm of my Savior Jesus...well, the things of this world fade, and my burdens are lifted. I pray this is true for you too.
God has some good plans for you...lean into Him and trust Him with your next breath and your next step...and the next breath and the next step after it. He will never leave you alone and He keeps all His promises too.