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The One With The Ugly Cry

It’s too late now, but he’s here.

I don’t want to see him. He’s too late.

My sister went to meet him–she’s always been the one who cared about what other people think. Fine, let her go “thank him” for finally showing up 4 days too late. I’m staying here in my misery.

He’s too late.

We’d sent for him days ago. Our brother was sick and we knew there wasn’t much time. Surely the message had reached him earlier. We thought he would care–but where was he when my world fell apart? Why wasn’t he HERE? Why didn’t he stop this?

If he cared, why didn’t he hurry here and do a miracle for us like he’s done for the others?

He could have stopped this pain.

But he did nothing…and now he’s here.

But it’s too late.

Our brother is dead.

My brother has been in the tomb for 4 days, and I feel like I’ve been dead inside for 4 days…this pain is too unbearable to live with…I almost wish I was the one in the tomb. At least then I’d be out of this misery.

“The Teacher is here and is calling for you.”

I can see by the look in my sister’s eyes that there’s something different. I’ve seen that look before–everyone who talks to him seems to walk away a little different…a little better.

He’s too late, but this pain feels suffocating and I can hardly bear it anymore. I get up quickly to meet him and go outside. Of course, everyone around me thinks I’m going to the tomb to weep some more, so they’re following me to keep trying to console me. They’ve been trying this for days and it’s not working: they know how miserable I am. At least they showed up when he wasn’t here.

Then I see him.

He’s here.

The tears come back–how is it even possible for me to still have tears left to cry?

As I fall down at his feet weeping, I verbalize the thought that’s been haunting me before the sobs take my body captive once again.

“If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

I can’t stop weeping into my arms. I know I look miserable as I ugly cry–but I am miserable. I’m not like my sister–I can’t keep up a good impression up when I feel this bad. He could have stopped this–He could have spared me from all this pain. But instead he comes 4 days too late and “calls for me.”

In between the heaving sobs, I lift my head to catch my breath…and I catch a glimpse of him.

He’s weeping.

I look around at all the ones who’ve tried to console me the past few days…and then I look back at him.

He’s weeping.

I hear some of my friends saying, “See how he loved him!”

And I hear the whispers of others asking the same question I’ve been asking.

“Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

But I see him weeping and it strikes me that he’s inherently God–I truly believe he is–but yet he’s also fully human…which means he’s not immune to pain. He’s weeping. He’s feeling this pain I’ve been enduring. He’s feeling my pain. And He’s weeping.

The waterworks start and the ugly cry takes over again–seriously, how is it possible to have this many tears left when I’ve already shed so many?

We get to the tomb so he can see where my dead brother was laid in the cave. He’s asking them to take away the stone–what is he thinking?

Of course, my sister speaks up and reminds him that our brother has been dead for FOUR days. And he looks at her with his kind eyes and says:

“Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Apparently that’s enough to convince my sister–she gives them the go ahead and they take away the stone.

Now my tears have stopped because I’m trying to hear what he’s saying as he looks up in the sky. I push through the large crowd of people–my friends who’d come to console me–to get closer to him.

“Father, I thank You that You have heard me. I knew that You always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that You sent me.”

There’s a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach now. Something is about to happen. Almost as if in a dream, I hear him call my brother’s name loudly.

And my brother–who has been dead for FOUR days–walks out. His hands and feet were bound with linen strips and his face was wrapped with a cloth. But there was no denying it–my dead brother is now alive.

And I’m frozen in place with tears flowing once more as my thoughts run wild.

He wasn’t too late.

He’d had a plan all along.

He let my brother die so he could do something amazing through that death.

He’d healed many, but I hadn’t heard of him raising someone to life.

I’d wanted him to fix my problem by healing my brother, but he’d chosen a different–and more painful–path for this story.

And I wasn’t alone in my pain. It hits me again that he wept…he wept, even though he knew how the story would end.

He knew what he was about to do. He knew my brother was about to come back to life–that he was about to raise my brother from the dead.

And yet he wept. He felt the pain of the story. It wasn’t just my pain to bear, even though it had felt like I was alone, no matter how many of my friends tried to console me. He wept because he felt the pain too.

I, of course, didn’t know the end of the story…all I knew was this unbearably real pain that cuts like a knife to the core of my very being.

All I knew were the nights I’d cried myself to sleep, praying and wishing and hoping for the healing to come…praying and wishing and hoping that he would get our message and just show up and fix everything so I wouldn’t have to hurt anymore.

All I knew were the nights after the death when I tried to move on and accept that the healing hadn’t come…and how those nights ended with me in the fetal position, sobbing until my body shook and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. How I questioned why he didn’t come…why he didn’t care…why he didn’t fix it all…why he allowed this pain to hurt me when he knew how much I loved him and believed him and expected him to do a miracle and bring the healing. I believed he would do the miracle I was begging for…and then he didn’t show up. That’s what I knew.

But he knew the story. He knew the pain. He felt the pain of the story, even though he knew the ending. He felt the pain of death when he could have swept in and saved us all from the pain by doing a miracle when I’d wanted him to show up. He chose to endure the pain of the moment for the hope of the future.

Because look at all these people believing in him now–people I love who’d come to console me. They’d never believed in him before, no matter how hard I tried to convince them that he is God…yet they do now. They get it. But they wouldn’t have believed in him if I hadn’t been in pain because if I hadn’t been in pain, they wouldn’t have come to console me. And I wouldn’t have been in pain if he had just showed up on time–on my time.

But his timing is better. Apparently he’s able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine. Because all I could ask was for him to show up and all I could imagine was for him to heal my brother.

But this story is beyond my wildest imagination.

I look at him again as tears stream down my face and I see him watching me with those kind eyes. I see the glistening of tears in his eyes and I know he must have an idea of all these thoughts running around in my head.

He wasn’t too late.
He’s never too late.
And His plan–even if painful–is perfect.

“Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

My beloved Jesus, I believe. May Your glory be revealed through this story.

 

God’s grace in my life:

He brings pain so I can learn to trust Him. He sees the big picture, even when I don’t…and it’s better than any single puzzle piece that I’m focused on at the moment. He feels my pain and He is not some faraway god–He is a God who shows up in the middle of the story when everything seems hopeless and He weeps with me. And He’s allowing this part of the story because there’s a beautiful mountain of life up ahead that cannot be fully appreciated without first walking through the valley of death.

{The above story is based on a very true story, but written as my speculation of what Mary may have experienced. Check out John 11 for the Biblical account of that very true event.}