May 17 Reflections

Running one morning while it was still dark, I came across this huge blob in the middle of the road. It startled me at first because I was thinking about other things like what I am going to write for reflections this week. It was a very large raccoon. In the dark, startled, it appeared to be the biggest raccoon ever. It has been moved to the side of the road. But it has been four days. It is getting bigger. It smells when you run by. It is decomposing while crows and the like have a feast. Four days.  It is hopeless for that dead raccoon.  There is no expectation that it will come back to life.

Lazarus had been in the tomb four days when Jesus came to Bethany. There was already an odor (John 11:39).  Hopeless. There was no hope anyone was going to see Lazarus on earth again. All hope was gone. There are times our situations can seem hopeless. There does not seem to be a way out. At times the Covid 19 pandemic can feel that way. Will this ever end? All these restrictions are annoying and yet we know they save lives.  We want things to go back to the way they were. In the middle of hopelessness people throughout the ages have lamented, expressing deep regret, grief or sorrow in words, songs, and tears. Lamenting is different than complaining. Complaining is more self-centered. “I am upset I can’t go out with my friends.” Lamenting is God-centered, crying out to God for the suffering and pain. “How long LORD? How long must we wrestle with Covid 19 and day after day have sorrow in our hearts.” (Psalm 13) In the midst of hopelessness, lamenting is a normal response.

Jesus lamented. He wept for the brokenness of humanity which he came to heal and restore. The tears of lament bring healing to broken hearts as they are watered with hope. From the time they leave our eyes until the time they reach our hearts something supernatural happens. What started out as hopelessness, begins to bring hope as they hit our hearts. The end of the story is not hopelessness.  We are going to think about lament and hope the next two weeks, listening to the story of Lazarus in John 11. This week lament, next week hope. Some passages to read in preparation: John 11:17-35; Psalm 13; Psalm 34:18; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn