Eternity, not time, heals all wounds

Whoever first said, “Time heals all wounds” obviously never lost a child. Time for me has only made horrific pain lessen and become bearable. To be healed is to be completely free from the symptoms of grief and for the parents of lost children this cannot be fully experienced in this life. Someday I will be healed when the silver strand is broken, when time is no more, and I enter into eternal rest with my God. Until then, time can only mend the brokenhearted for which I am grateful to God.

It has been 3 years since our terrible 12 months ended, during which 4 loved family members died. Our last 2 losses (which were only 6 weeks apart) was my son and then my wife’s mother Linda. All 4 deaths were sudden and all were unexpected, each impacted us deeply and when the dust finally settled none of my family would ever be the same.

I recently attended another funeral of a young man whose life ended at 29 years. As I looked around the parlor during the visitation I observed multiple parents who also had lost a child. Too young, too soon, so tragic, so sad and painful. I recalled the pain I felt during visitation and the funeral service of my son. In those moments it feels as if the intense pain will have to be endured forever. Thankfully, by the grace of God it is not.

My hair suddenly stood on my neck, I shuttered and the memory of the indescribable pain which returned to me when I heard the mother of the lost son lament and wail. I remembered my own laments, I remembered sitting exactly where she sat just 3 years ago. I remember making similar unique groans that only the soul of a grieving parent can release. A helpless bitter cry that was heard by all but only understood by God himself and handful of parents who sit in the funeral home. Time does not completely heal this wound but time will take the edge off the pain we feel.

The funeral ended and a grief journey began for a mother and her surviving family.

I remember talking to parents who had lost children at the beginning of my journey. I envied them, they said that the grief would change and the burden wouldn’t be so heavy and in time you will be able to walk with it. What they were saying to me was that time doesn’t heal all wounds but it does take the edge off. I wanted to be where they were and fast forward through the extremely difficult first couple of years.

In the early days of grief even the good things in life brought me pain. This reality was replayed over and over again in those first months and years. About a year after Jacob died I gave his sister Jordan away in marriage. In all the joy of that day there was an internal grief struggle that was stabbing me in my heart. I was full of joy but the pain was always there throughout that wonderful day. How I wished Jacob was there to see his big sister on her special day.

Today it is different, today it is better, but I never expect it to entirely go away. With every joy in life there will always be the desire for Jacob to be present for the events that families celebrate. Things like birthdays, Christmas, graduations, weddings and the addition of children to the family. These kinds of occasions were once a sharp pain but have now reduced to a dull ache with an occasional stab to the heart. The grief never goes away but it changes and becomes bearable. This too is a grace from God who is comforting and mending  my soul.

There have been many recent and coming events that would have been much more difficult to attend in years past. My youngest son Jared finished his college wrestling career by qualifying for the NCAA division 3 nationals this past March. (Jake was his biggest fan) He then went on to graduate from Wheaton College three weeks ago and on June 10th he will marry his high school sweetheart. In the early stages of grief these occasions were bittersweet, full of joy and full of pain but now time has taken the edge off my grief but has not healed my wounds. I think much of Jacob during these times and joy is now the predominate emotion not the heavy sorrow veiled with a smile.

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jared jordan

I ask the question, “Does time heal all wounds?” Well, I’m not an expert on anything but I do know by experience that God is my healer and time takes the edge of the pain.

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:3-4

Eternity, not time, heals all our wounds. As time passes the cutting edge is dulled and life without Jacob become more bearable than the beginning. For this I give thanks to God.

Change: Diminishing grief the hard way

Change. Life is always changing, so much has changed for us that sometimes I can’t believe this is now our life. Three years ago I was on cruise control on life’s highway without a care in the world. The top was down, the sun was shining, the road was smooth with no twists, no turns, no exits and rarely a lane change.

We didn’t see the detour sign and didn’t know that the bridge was out. We drove right off the mighty Mackinac bridge feeling the sudden impact, the continual cold waves, and the shock of all that happened to our family in such a short amount of time. Change. Death changed everything in life. Our life has changed so much in the last three years that Stacey and I have often found ourselves saying to each other, “I can’t believe that this is our life!” It was very surreal at first but reality has now set in and we have evolved and changed with all the changes death brought to us.

Change. Losing a child changes everything in life and I have found that the only handbook on how to navigate the new world we have entered into is the bible. When I say that death changes everything that is exactly what I mean; nothing is the same nor will it ever be the same. It changed my perspective on the world, I don’t think like I used to nor do I respond to life like I used to. Death changed my faith, my marriage, my family, my plans in life, it has altered every aspect of living.

I guess if there is any counsel I could give to a parent who has just lost a child it would be to buckle up and brace yourself for change. I would also encourage them to not be afraid of making choices for change that will help with the grieving process. I have discovered by experience that grief can be diminished by doing the difficult things.

Change. We can only play the cards we are dealt and I will confess there are times I have wanted to fold and quit the game. In the beginning of the game it felt like I would never get a good hand dealt to me but cards always change and good fortune did come.

Though death did change everything without our consent there are choices for changes we have made to make our journey somewhat smoother again. They haven’t always been easy choices  but I have found healing in the difficult decisions. Death changed everything but we made difficult choices to change and adjust our lives to our new paradigm.

Grief can bring you to a standstill in life. Change has come and we have found that we must change to avoid getting stuck in our grief. The difficult thing with change and moving forward is that it hurts most of the time. Grief therapy and physical therapy are somewhat similar. We must make the choice to go to our appointments, make a choice to do the tough stuff and expect that after the uncomfortable pain has passed there will be healing in the end.

Change. We didn’t choose this pathway but we can choose the path to better places. I have learned that making changes are difficult and downright painful at times but the benefits are worth it. Somebody once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I have chosen to change with all the changes that have come my way and expect a different outcome. It hasn’t always been easy, it hasn’t been always comfortable. I have learned that changes hurt sometimes, (heck, most of the time) but found that in grief the old wrestling adage applies very well. “No pain, no gain!”

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During my years of wrestling with Jacob I have been confronted by huge life changes that I didn’t sign up for. In that time I have made small and large changes to move forward in the healing process. Life is always in flux but for me there is a great comfort that I hold to that never changes. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) With all the changes in life he is the rock I stand on that never moves and in that I take great comfort.

Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion. According to the multitude of His mercies. (Lamentations 3:32) 

 

 

Troubling Triggers

Without question my grief trigger over the last three years has been music. From day one music has triggered for me sadness and pain. I can honestly say that I hated music, I hated everything about it and I found it nearly inescapable no matter how fast I tried to run from it. The sound of music is everywhere and it pierced my soul with pains so that even background music in a TV commercial would cause me to cry. I made every effort to shut music out of my life to reduce the triggers of grief it caused.

The following video is one of Jacob performing a song he wrote only 4 months before he died.

 

The music trigger for me was set off every Sunday that I sat in church. I found myself in the deepest pain when the people sang. I do not sing, nor do I yet feel compelled to sing in church. I listen to the voices, I pray and I try to focus on worship while greatly anticipating the music ending and the sermon beginning.

I have been able to measure my healing by my ability to listen to music. I have moved from hatred of music, to tolerating it, to now being able to tune it in with only minimal grief. It has been uncanny how each anniversary of Jacob’s death marks a recognisable step in the healing process for me. I have noticed that the trigger of music is not what it once was at this three-year anniversary mark.

My heart is healing and not so heavy, music doesn’t make me shudder in pain like it once did. King Solomon wrote a proverb that perfect describes how I have reacted to the troubling trigger of music. “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (Proverbs 25:20)

Grief Changes and triggers lighten

My wife Stacey has discovered Kenny Chesney’s satellite station called No Shoes Radio. Silence is usually what I am tuned into when we drive together but lately on the road I have tuned into her favorite station. I have been able to listen, but not without an occasional pull at my heart which I try to endure that the healing may continue in my soul.

Coming home from Chicago a couple weeks ago I heard a song by Kenny for the very first time. As soon as the song began Stacey turned and said to me, “You can turn it off.” I responded by saying “No, it will help me heal.” The song is called Who You’d Be Today.  It was hard to listen to and made for difficult driving as I pondered his words.

Time does not heal all wounds but I am discovering that time does change the troubling triggers of grief. With time grief becomes manageable and the triggers come less often. Who knows, maybe next year I will be able to sing in church once again, or maybe I will play my harmonica again. Time will tell because time changes everything.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4

When hope is lost

Life is difficult. Pain is real. Grief, sorrow and trials are experienced by all in this world. We live by the golden rule, we walk by faith…or so we say, or so I have said. Yet lately, for longer than I want to admit to myself I have lost my hope. Oh, I say that I hope in God but that hope is mingled with a hope for better things in this life. I had dreams, but they died. I had desires for good things but they were cast down. I suffer pain, grief, sorrow and loss and I feel disheartened and crushed. I must admit that the death of my son Jacob has crushed my spirit to hope for better things.
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Therein lies my problem. I have fallen into the trap of placing hope in this temporal life, for passing earthly hopes that disappear as quickly as they appear. Oh, I would say that I was also looking to heaven for my eternal hope, but when my eyes fell again on the horizontal plane towards my hopes in this life I have been repeatedly disappointed. In these past three years I have guarded myself from hoping for better things in my life. However, when I let my guard down many times I was crushed again by another disappointing and difficult life event. I had forgotten and lost my sight of the promises in the valley of the shadow of death. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)
We have faith in God, we have love for God and we have good hope in God. Faith can be turned to fear, love can grow cold, and hope will be shaken when the eyes of our soul turn away from Jesus to the things of this life. God has corrected my eyesight in the last couple of days with the help of some of his servants. I had lowered my spiritual eyes and turned away from the only eternal and unwavering hope. I still desire, expect and hope for good things from my gracious and merciful savior in this life. I will hope and wait for his goodness but whether in the pain or in the pleasure my hope is assured by an anchor in heaven. When hope in this life is robbed by trials I have learned, and have been recently been painfully reminded again that earthly hope is a mirage and a dissipating vapor.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17-18 ESV) There have been times I have wanted to put a choke hold on people who quickly respond to trials by saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” While this is true it is of no comfort to the sorrowful, in fact it can be maddening. I have been in the fire, I am in the fire and I expect be in the fire again. This verse assures me that the my afflictions are temporal and no matter how bad life gets they are considered light and purposeful. I can rejoice in hope in the fire that prepares me for my future glorious inheritance in heaven. This is assured and this is our unchangeable and eternal hope.
I have been comforted by God and my hope has been restored because my eyes have turned heavenward where Christ my hope is seated at the right hand of God. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (2 Thess2:15-17) Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.
 

How insignificant things become meaningful

Selling a house is an emotional experience. A house becomes home because of family and years of created memories within its walls. We are getting ready to sell, we want to downsize and prepare for our future retirement. The emotions are greatly increasing for us and are much more intense than most sellers because of Jacob’s death.

It has been 2 years and 2 months since we said goodbye to Jacob. His bedroom door is closed and we have yet to go through his things. Soon we will be forced into tasks we have put off till the right time. I can’t say that the right time is here but the unavoidable day of packing, pitching and painting is coming fast. It’s still our call as to when, but one thing is for sure, we can no longer keep putting it off.

I got a taste of the pain last weekend while repainting his brothers room. Tokens of Jake’s life and the love these brothers have for each other was everywhere. It made me cry. These were the first tears I shed in connection to our decision to sell our home. I expect more, I expect harder days and am preparing myself as best I can for the hardest day to come; the day we open Jakes bedroom door. The day the door swings open our hearts will be opened as well, opened to love, opened to memories, opened to grief and opened to the pain.

There are many insignificant things in life that suddenly turn incredibly important upon death. Once meaningless items now speak a story and evoke thoughts and emotions. This really made me consider the meaningless treasures that I will leave behind someday for my loved ones. What story will they tell about me? What emotions will they drum up after my passing?  Most of the time I make efforts to avoid personal items of Jacob’s because of the emotional trauma it ignites. But in preparing for moving there is no place to hide and with every item handled there is a memory, a story, there is a smile, a laugh and much sobbing and tears.

Jake parked his 1998 Honda CRV for the last time on March 25th 2014. It has sat unmoved for two years but last weekend time came to clean it out and let it go. He was not the tidiest college student on the planet and his car reflected that.I found his hat and used it to contain his sunglasses, his Adidas cologne and his safety vests from Pro Build lumberyard. I smelled the bottle and remembered how I helped Jake get the job, he really loved working there. Then I threw away some MacDonald’s bags which represented some of the last food he tasted in life-poor kid! I collected his change from the console and discarded a losing scratch off lottery ticket that was with it. There were the tires in the back that I asked him multiple time to have installed which obviously he never got around to. Then I found a well worn senior picture of his friend Gail, I read the message she wrote him on the back and put it in the hat with the other treasures. Then, Under the floor mat I found the most insignificant treasure of the day.

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There on the floor lay Jacob’s once insignificant college ID. The plastic card has 2 corners missing and I wondered what the story was behind that. Then I realized he couldn’t find a guitar pic so he made some out of his ID. I smiled, my heart warmed a bit as I thought about how he loved that Big Baby Taylor we bought for him in the 6th grade. The ID is now in Jacobs treasure box that rests on my wife’s dresser. The forgotten and insignificant ID told me a story and has now become a priceless item to me of the life of my son.

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There were more insignificant treasures found while I painted his brothers room. I found a notebook with bible study notes and lengthy prayer lists that belonged to Jared. I seen Jacob’s name on the list and felt the love he has for his brother and just began to cry. I am crying just thinking of it again.

Then there, on the desk, laid 4 pages of sheet music that belonged to Jacob. He printed off the music to sing Amazing Grace and the Old Rugged Cross at his great granny’s funeral just 3 months before he died himself. He had notations on the paper but what he crossed out again made me shutter inside and begin to weep again. It was a contemporary version of Amazing Grace which had words he crossed out and did not sing. These are the words he crossed out.

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There are indicators when people relapse into their addictions. Jake was no different, we knew when his anxiety was high that he was in danger of relapse and we would love him trough the rough patch. But when Jake overdosed his indicators were hidden well, he was happy, life was very good at the time- apparently too good. This is why his death was so shocking, we knew the signs but the signs didn’t show themselves.

I can only assume what Jake and God only know. Why did he cross out these words? I guess he was feeling the weight of the chains that December before he died. It’s possible that couldn’t sing the words because he was using prescription meds, he was hiding, he was chained again. On March 26th he was set free from it all.

I took the papers  upstairs to the treasure chest and left them with the other things, each having a story of their own.

Very soon we will open his door and reopen the wound. We will discover and rediscover things that once were once insignificant but now have a priceless treasured story.

What will my things say to others when I am gone? What will become treasures to loved ones when fly away? Kind of an odd thing to think on but truly every object has a story and is leaving a legacy for others to remember us by. What will that legacy and story be for you; what will it be for me?

A legacy of love

There is an account in the bible that tells of the very thing I write of today. It occurred in the days of the apostles and you can read it for yourself in Acts chapter 9. It tells of a kind and loving woman who had died in Lydda. Disciples sent for nearby Peter to come quickly which he promptly did. When he arrived he walked into the following scene.

“All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing the tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.” (Acts 9:39)

Why did the widows cling to the clothing? Because the clothing was the emblem of the loving kindness of Dorcas and they clung to it as they mourned the loss of love. This is why  simple, seemingly insignificant items makes us grieve. They retell a love story.

A promise of hope

The apostle Peter had seen Jesus risen from the dead. There is no doubt that Peter believes in the resurrection of dead people, he seen it many times in the three years he spent with Jesus. With confidence in God, he puts out the women, kneels at the bed and calls Dorcas to life through the power of the Spirit of God.

“But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up.” (Acts 9:40-41 ESV)

I am sure that I am going to grieve much as I cling to Jacob’s things in the coming months. Unfortunately, Jesus, Peter or Paul are not next door to call and solve this death problem. Yet, I have hope that my son will someday come out of the ground and be given a new body much like the risen body of my Lord Jesus Christ. He promised it and assured it by his own victory over our greatest enemy death.

A comforting promise

Jesus left behind a cross. It is emblem and legacy that I cling to that brings me great comfort. I will cling to the old rugged cross because there, and only there was sin, death, and hell defeated in one fatal blow. The serpent’s head was crushed and I can have real comfort and real hope in  his resurrection from the dead.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then those who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Be encouraged, be comforted, be hopeful, and be ready my friends!

Behold, I come quickly-Jesus

…What a wonderful world!

I am on a patio at 6:34 AM enjoying the sights, the sounds and the smells of Playa Del Carmen Mexico. Sunrise was amazing with all the shades of blue green water that a person could drink in. The birds are singing, the sound of softly rolling waves breaking on the beach and a warm south breeze is hitting my face. I love Mexico, it’s not just a nice place to visit, I could live here

imageIt is now 6:54. My wife is wandering the sand searching for me, I called to get her attention. 7:02 and we are enjoying morning coffee together with the rising sun. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world. Louis Armstrongs famous song and iconic voice keep ringing through my mind this week. “I see skies of blue, and clouds of white, the bright blessed day, the dark sacred night, and I think to myself what a wonderful world.”

Day 5

It’s now day five and I am in the same chair enjoying the same sights and sounds I have enjoyed for the past 4 sunrises. We went snorkeling yesterday in a few cenote’s. The limestone formations, the fish, the sunshine, the water and time with my wife was wonderful. Louis is still being hummed in my heart,”I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom, for me and for you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

I am soaking in the sun. I am soaking up life. Excuse me for a moment while I get my sunrise latte and banana muffin. The resort staff are working hard to make our stay wonderful. The Mexican’s are a kind and friendly people, I really love them. They greet you with a smile and a hola all day, every day. I can hear Armstong singing again, “The color of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, are also on the faces of people going by. I see friends shaking hands, sayin’,”How do you do?” They’re really saying’, “I love you.”

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world!

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My vacation meditatation

As a Christian I believe God is good and does good all the time. There is no darkness in him at all so I can trust that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. With whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

My senses are on overload here in Mexico. God is so good to me; he is so good to us and this is never going to change. His good hand is everywhere I look in all that I see, in all that I taste, in all that I hear, smell and experience. Vacation has been refreshing! God has provided all things for me to enjoy, and I think to myself, what a wonderful God.

Yesterday we snorkeled  in a cenote that had an opening in the ceiling. The hole was perhaps 4 foot across and allowed the sun to come into the cavern. The sunbeam was simply amazing to behold as it cut through the darkness into the water and danced on the limestone floor below us. I thought of my boy Jacob as I put my hands and feet into the light that looked as if were angels dancing for Jesus. God gave me this to enjoy too. And I thought to myself, what a wonderful world- what a wonderful creator.

Life is good but life is not always pleasant. Children are a blessing from God and sometimes God takes our children away to be with him. Mexico is reminding me of all the good things God has provided for me to enjoy and of my beloved son whom he has taken away. Though terribly painful, but in a much lesser degree than Job experienced, I must respond the same way he did to the loss of my child. He lost all his children and in deep grief he lamented, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) God is worthy to be blessed in our pleasures and in our pain. Regardless our circumstances, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)

God gave me 22 good years of joy with my boy. Jacob isn’t my creation he is a creation of God given to me to enjoy. I enjoyed his life thoroughly but like a sunset his life disappeared behind the horizon. With every sunset there is the hope of a sunrise. I look ahead with the psalmist who said the following.

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. – Psalm 30:4-5

There is a sunrise coming, my son will rise again and we will dwell in a place where the sun never sets. “And the night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light and they wil reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

Adios my friends, I am going to the pool!

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Death benefits: part 2- faith, hope and love

Some months ago I had a conversation with a person whose sister was brutally murdered. He said to me that he rejects the notion that everything happens for a reason. He feels that the death of his sibling was pointless and without purpose. As I listened to him speak my mind was at the other end of the spectrum. I thought to myself that there is reason why my son died, it is not meaningless and it has purpose. This is quite a juxtaposition. How do two people view death in two very different extremes? Was I just looking through rose colored glasses and was he looking through dark shades? No, I don’t think so.

It wasn’t that I am an optimist and he is a pessimist. The fact of the matter is that I view death through the lens of faith, and he, being without faith in Christ, cannot see what I see. If a person doesn’t know the meaning and source of life he certainly will never know the meaning behind death. But the bible answers both if a person is willing to listen and be enlightened by the truth concerning these confounding questions.

Why did Jesus allowed his friend to die?

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21&32)

Have you ever pleaded with God for someone to get well but God didn’t show up and your loved one died? Have you ever considered that maybe God actually ordained the sickness and allowed death to happen for a much greater purpose? Some very close friends of Jesus find themselves in this very situation a short time before his own crucifixion. Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come and heal their brother Lazarus but Jesus purposefully delayed going for two days so that he would die.

There was a greater purpose in the death of Lazarus that could not be realized by healing his terminal illness. Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son might be glorified through it.” (John 11:4) This is a sobering reminder about our prayers and petitions that seem to be ignored by God. Father knows best! “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)

Some might call into question the love of God in permitting such a thing, so John records that, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” (John 11:6) Love would certainly become evident to all when he arrived, he was troubled when he saw his friends and even his enemies grieving at the tomb. “Jesus wept” (John 11:36) He groans over the toll that sin has taken on his creation. Who can free the world from the chains of death? Christ and Christ alone! “We groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for the adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:21-25) This is our blessed hope and this miracle of the raising of Lazarus is a prelude to the hope we have in Jesus who possesses the keys of death and the grave. How did he obtain the keys? He has destroyed the one who had the power of death through his own death, burial and resurrection from the dead. (Hebrews 2:14)

What miracle would give God most glory; the healing of Lazarus or the resurrection of Lazarus? This resurrection miracle is the crown jewel of all the miracles done by the Lord. It puts the glory and power of God on full display. But there is more that Jesus will accomplish in his delayed trip to Bethany. He is actually joyful over the fact that he was not going to heal Lazarus. Yes, Jesus was glad that he was not there. “Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sakes I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:15) The glory of God is the primary purpose behind this death but building up the disciples faith is of great importance as well.

Death and other various trials will cause our faith to grow; The Lord finds joy in this and we should as well. This funeral built a deeper faith in God, a confident hope in the resurrection of the dead and a deeper love for Jesus to the glory of God. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

What we believe should move us to action. What Jesus asks the family to do next is almost unbelievable if it hadn’t actually taken place. He says, “Take away the stone.” (John 11:39) For a more contemporary understanding of this I pictured Jesus handing me a shovel at the headstone of my son Jacob and saying, “Dig.” Martha objected for obvious reasons and I am sure I would have had the same concerns. But the Lord wants a faith and trust that obeys even the absurd and things we fear. He reminds Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40) Faith went to work and the eyes of everyone witnessed a dead man come to life and exit his grave. All this to the praise of God and his Son Jesus Christ.

What we know about God is not what gives God joy and pleasure, it is what we do with what we believe that delights the Lord. “And without faith it is impossible to please him.” (Hebrews 11:6) The disciples seen the glory of God because they believed and rolled the stone away. I ask myself the question, “What stones do I need to roll away in my life, by active faith, that I may behold the glory of God?” The Lord knew his beloved disciples believed in him but he engages their faith in essence by saying, “Don’t just say that you believe. Prove it! Put your hands to the stone and roll it away.”

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