The last 7 days have been total shit, which doesn’t happen often, but when it does it always draws me into a deep and selfish hole of hopelessness that I have little choice but to wallow in as life falls apart all around me, constantly sloughing itself off like a locust its body, which I imagine is both painful and stimulating - like a haircut, but with much more discomfort.I have shit days fairly often, as we all do, but its only during a “perfect storm” like this that I fall away into outer darkness while I await the arrival of Jesus to revive me - just like Lazarus.
In the story, Lazarus is deathly ill and his friends send for Jesus to come to his aid. So Jesus gets the news and rushes to Lazarus’s side and casts out his sickness immediately and everybody lives happily ever after.
Wait. That’s not how the story goes at all.
Jesus doesn’t rush to Lazarus.
Jesus doesn’t go at all.
And for all his family knew, that was the end of the story. Lazarus was dead and they buried him.
Then, FOUR DAYS LATER Jesus finally shows up.
Talk about being late.
If I was Lazarus’s father I would have punched Jesus in the stomach and called him an asshole for showing up like that. They sent for him about a week earlier and gave him plenty of time to do his thing and what did he do? Nothing.
Lazarus was dead.
Too late, Jesus. He’s already dead and stinking.
Now, we all know what happens next - Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and life goes on.
Now I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t offer me much comfort in my distress. What kind of hope can you be expected to have when you’ve been dead, buried, and in the ground for FOUR DAYS?
Was Lazarus raised to life because he never failed to give up hope? No way. He was dead. He may have held onto hope up until his dying breath, but when you’re dead, you’re just dead. No thoughts. No hope. No prayer.
Did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead because Martha and Mary never gave up hope? I seriously doubt it. I’m no Bible scholar but as far as I can tell no one had ever been raised from the dead before Lazarus. Everyone that died stayed dead. So I would find it hard to believe that Martha and Mary were at peace knowing that Jesus would show up eventually and zap life back into their brother.
So - the question becomes: Does Jesus rush to our aid and answer our prayers because we are stalwarts of hope?
Why? Because Lazarus died.
So it seems: Jesus only does what suits Jesus.
Which is argument for trust, to be sure - but not for hope.
Hope is an issue that I feel I must hold onto as if it were my only lifeline, but as we find in the story of Lazarus, thereis a point at which hope fails us along with everything else. Even Jesus. The river runs dry.
Hope dies. Jesus doesn’t show up - and we hate him for it.
But then, right in the midst of all mourning and anger and hopelessness - here comes that weary old bastard, shuffling casually down the dirt road, way off on the horizon, carrying with him everything I need, and in no hurry at all.