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Friday, August 17, 2007

Unanswered Questions

This is the end of one of the more confusing weeks. I choose confusing and not difficult because although Andrea's condition had taken a turn for the worse it was just so unexpected. We started the week with Andrea having to restart two of the harder chemo drugs. That in itself was hard as Andrea faces loosing her hair for the fourth time in four years. Then there was the difficulty with the military hospital which unnecessarily compounded the events. But in the end these were chemo drugs Andrea has taken twice before and had tolerated them pretty well. I say that using her first chemo called AC as the basis, and nothing could be as hard as that drug. So although we were facing more chemo we thought we knew what to expect. I soon found out I was wrong.

During the events of the past week I found myself touched by the story of Lazarus. Maybe not because of the obvious reason of Lazarus being raised from the dead but to the reaction of Mary and Margret and the Jews. That is one of the things I love about reading the Bible. Depending on what you are experiencing, different parts of the Bible will speak to you. I believe that even as some of you read this story you may be drawn to a different verses. There are so many aspects to this account of Jesus' life you could write 10 journal entries and although it is one of the more widely known stories in the Bible, I suggest when you read it you avoid the temptation to skip or read over parts you "know." Read it has if it is your first time to read the verses and you will find yourself drawn to parts of the story you may not have thought about.

John 11:1-37
1Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." 4When 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." 5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. 7Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 8"But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" 9Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." 11After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." 12His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
17On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." 23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32When 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."
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. 35Jesus wept. 36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

The past week I did not understand what we were going through or why we were going through it. Andrea came home from the chemo on Monday and seemed excessively tired. She basically slept until Friday afternoon. Not only was she sleepy, she was very groggy, her speech was weak and hard to understand and she just could not keep her eyes open. She was also having several other symptoms, shortness of breath, severe stomach pains, and swelling of her left hand. It was all so unexpected since Andrea has never had these side effects when she took the drugs in the past. So I had, as maybe some of you did as well, some unanswered questions. Why was Andrea having to go back on chemo? Why did our prayers seemed unanswered? It was these thoughts that led me to John 11.
As I read John 11, I was drawn to Martha's response when Jesus arrived, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." And Mary's response, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Remember they had sent for Jesus when Lazarus was ill, knowing Jesus had healed others and would surly come to someone He loved. So as I read this verse I related to the questions being asked and the unspoken words between the lines. Maybe I was just projecting my own thoughts between the lines but Mary and Martha were human like me and I'm sure felt some of the same thoughts as we all would in that situation. Lord, if you had been here, I could relate to the confusion in their words and the underlying disappointment, anger, that Jesus did not do for someone He loved what He had done for others. As humans we have expectations or an understanding of what love involves and delaying until Lazarus died did not make sense in their minds. Much like myself tyring to understand why Andrea was in such pain no matter what I prayed. It was as if I just could not find the words to connect to God. Did He not care, nor just not hear? The only obvious answer I could see to my prayers was for Andrea's pain to stop, and her body to be healed instantly. If later then why not now?

I was also drawn to the reaction of the Jews who commented, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" I just know Mary and Martha heard these comments, and probably began to ask the same question as doubt creeps in the door of misunderstanding. That's what happens when we look to man's knowledge to try to understand God's ways. The two do not equate and seemed to contradict each other.

Jesus knew the result of His delaying coming to Lazarus and He even told the Disciples why, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. He even told Martha up front, "Your brother will rise again." Jesus knew this had to play out and Lazarus had to die for God's will to be done. They just had to trust. I think Jesus displayed His love for them in His grief over their sadness.

33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
Soon they would have to draw on this deeper faith when Jesus himself was given over to death. How was he going to raise himself? They did not need to know the how, they would just have to know he would. Jesus' miracles were used to point to His Deity, His ability to do what only God could do. Not just for the moment, but for salvation.

In the end Mary and Martha and those around them were drawn into a deeper faith and understanding of Jesus.

This is what spoke to me this week. I did not understand why but being given the benefit of having the Bible, God's account of Jesus' life to help me I knew I just needed to trust. God may have seemed silent to me this week but that is only because I was listening with human ears and not my spirit. I'm not saying I expect the same events to play out in our life as this account, but the same heart of God is with us. The same love for us.
This week I learned again it was a time to trust. It was a time to know the character of God and quiet my questions. God is faithful and as we all know sometimes His timing and our timing are not the same.

Websters Dictionary defines faith as a firm belief in something for which there is no proof : complete trust.

God used the events of this week to remind me to walk by faith and not by sight.

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