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Jesus Wept

The fatigue that has begun to characterize me is quite clearly a result of all my conflicting emotions these days. I am relieved to have our home under contract and at the same time I am so very sad to leave it and my beloved neighbors, who include my son’s best friend since birth. I am excited to move one step closer to Grove Park and at the same time overwhelmed by all that has to be done in terms of packing, building plans and loans, permits, packing, appraisals, did I mention packing? I am delighted that the U.S. Embassy in Uganda has begun to process visas again, but forlorn by the length of our process and the total unknown in terms of timing and referral process, etc. This journey is both exhilarating and excruciating, bringing at one moment the compulsion to dance and another the trigger to sob and sob.

What is with all this drama? I know it will all work out in the end, that it is all good and that God is handling each detail whether I can explain it or not. If I know all this and believe all this, why the emotional roller coaster and feeling of depletion because of it?

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” John 11: 32-37

Jesus wept. We love that verse because it is the shortest verse in the Bible. But there is so much more going on here. Mary was mad that Jesus had let Lazarus die. The onlookers were suspicious of Jesus’ validity based on the fact He didn’t prevent Lazarus’ death. Jesus himself knew Lazarus was about to be resurrected, He knew how the movie was going to end…so why did He cry?

Could it be, that like everything else in the Bible, preventing hard experiences is not God’s priority while changing hearts is? Could it be that just because the end of the story ties up neatly, the tangled parts beforehand actually hurt and are toilsome? When I have the flu, I have the expectation that I will be better and back to normal in the near future, yet in the moment of my fever’s rage, I moan with pain and discomfort. The fact that things are going to be fine doesn’t sanitize or in any way eliminate the fact that they are not fine now.

Jesus doesn’t just know our humanity and smile patronizingly down upon us because of our limitations. He created the complexity of our humanity and then entered right into it. The Gnostics called emotions lesser, yet Jesus, who lived on earth without sin, as both fully God and fully man, wept. Our grieving, our moaning, our tangled up emotions are not evidence of a lack of faith but rather the very avenue God takes us down to transform our hearts into ones that look a lot more like Jesus.

So why do I hate that so much? Maybe because emotions show me and anyone else who may be watching that I am not omniscient (my emotions may seem to be short sighted) nor omnipotent (my emotions indicate a loss of control and power). I don’t consciously want to be omniscient and omnipotent (my own God replacement), but I do want to be “above” being affected by life. How grateful am I, however, that Jesus did not stay “above being affected by life”? He jumped right into the muddy, mucky, slippery, stinky human experience to restore dignity and glory to His creation, to humanity and to the fullness of who He made me to be – intellect, emotions and will.

I want to skip past the crying, the grieving, the anxiousness, the fearfulness. I want to repaint the circumstances so I can smile peacefully because “everything’s fine”! But thankfully, God is committed to taking me deeper than that, to show me how and why He is making everything new by first letting me feel deeply the brokenness and need for restoration. He could weep because His emotions weren’t simply utilitarian but were just as much a part of being the truth, the way and the life. The truth is that the death of John the Baptist, the death of Lazarus and the market created in the Temple were indications of how broken the image of God in man and the creation itself are, and why redemption is not a luxury but a necessity. Because Jesus has a heart, loves deeply, and cares unreasonably, He could do no other than to weep over Adam and his progeny…and then begin the process of resurrection. When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

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