Jun29MonJune 29, 2020
How do we experience Jesus’ greatness in our grief /frustration in the many deaths we face in this life?
I think that right at the front end, there is a shift in most of us when it comes to our God image. How we see Jesus and His posture towards us. Jesus is a welcomer of us as we are. We come to Him in honesty and in that trueness to what is, we can experience an intimate relationship with Him, where His greatness touches our struggle. Jesus wants to be with us intimately in our grief and frustration.
In this story we see a great life principle: there is death and there is life; there is goodbye and hello. The deaths we pass through aren’t just our final physical deaths, but rather the many deaths/goodbyes we encounter in life. The death to how we want things to be in some way, shape or form. A loss of something or someone we have an attachment to. Something in ourselves that needs to die and be transformed. These deaths prepare us for our final letting go of life in this world. So, in a sense, learning how to die – or how to say goodbye – is one of the most important formation pieces in our lives as Christ’s disciples.
Read the scripture passage slowly. Then use your imagination to be Mary or Martha in this story – but bring what you can see is your goodbye – that suffering, loss, thing you are fighting to keep – what you long for Jesus to fix - into this place.
- Stand before Jesus as Martha or be on your knees in tears as Mary and say their words as you bring your goodbye: Lord, if you would have been here, I wouldn’t have to die to this. OR Lord, why couldn’t you have come so I don’t have to go through this grief? Allow your emotions and thoughts to come up in you. Don’t edit them. Tell them to Jesus.
- The scriptures say that Jesus wept, He wept with Mary and the others. Imagine Jesus with his arms around you, crying with you, entering your suffering.
- Jesus took everyone to the tomb. Let Jesus strengthen you to look at your loss/struggle. Look at it from every angle while you are in His presence. Be open to how He leads you to say goodbye. It may not be a one-time goodbye – it might be a journey of goodbye that you have begun. If you are not ready for the hello yet, you may need to continue to journey through this goodbye a little longer before you move to #4. Let Jesus guide.
- Jesus calls out to Lazarus, who is dead, to come out. Reflect on Jesus being the Resurrection and the Life and that there is life after this goodbye. There is a hello to something new, a different way, a new direction, a new grace, a new season. Jesus calls you to come out of the death. He calls you to come out so that the grave cloths can be removed within community and you can find your new hello.
- Imagine yourself as Lazarus. You have come out of your death and the worst of your grieving…all the while being held by Jesus and His love and sympathy. You stand on the edge of hello. Maybe you know what it is and maybe you don’t. In front of you stands Jesus, smiling, strong, still welcoming you. You hear Him say, as the last cloths are removed, “Let him/her go.” You are being encouraged to walk into an earth-bound resurrection…into a hello. Your wounds have shaped you and always will. But Jesus calls you to courage – to follow Him into a new day.
- Write out a prayer of what you are thinking and what you want from Jesus as you move forward to your new hello.
A great resource for this spiritual formation is “Praying our Goodbyes” by Joyce Rupp.