“[Jesus] was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, I talked about Jesus’ claim to be the resurrection and the life, and the implications of this truth in my personal life and in the lives of all leaders. Verse 33 comes after Jesus’ claim to be the resurrection and the life. It precedes the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead and is followed by John 11:35, which is famously the shortest verse in the bible: “Jesus wept.” These two verses hint that Jesus was not overcome with grief over the death of Lazarus (whom he knew he was going to bring back to life), but rather deeply grieved over the state of humanity. There is so much pain and heartache in this world and Jesus is grieving that his resurrection life is not yet fully realized in the creation that he so lovingly made. Jesus will give a glimpse of his glory to come in the raising of Lazarus, yet here he weeps because death still reigns until he comes again to eradicate it in full.
Sometimes we need to be reminded amidst our own tears that Jesus’ resurrection life will one day remake the heavens and earth. Until then, he gives us glimpses of this resurrection life to encourage us. Katherine Wolf was an aspiring actress and new mom to a six-month old when she almost died from a brain stem stroke that left her substantially disabled even after years of rehabilitation. She and her husband, Jay, have started a ministry called “Hope Heals” to tell their story of tragedy and hope as they live a new normal that looks completely different than what they dreamed it would be. They have experienced a glimpse of Jesus’ resurrection life amidst their darkest moments and now have committed themselves to share their story so that Jesus’ life might be breathed into others.
Jesus is certainly deeply grieved that his beloved children are susceptible to brain stem strokes and all other forms of bodily brokenness such as cancer, mental illness, or debilitating illnesses. All of humanity’s suffering touches the heart of God.
Sometimes God blesses us with glimpses of resurrection life, as in the case of Katherine and Jay Wolf. What should have been a death sentence physically and then emotionally has turned into a beautiful witness of God’s faithfulness to carry his people through the toughest of circumstances. Yet, even when our stories don’t have what seem like happy endings, God is still with us, at work in us, guiding our lives by his grace. Perhaps that gives you hope today to carry on because you know that not only will God remove all the bad one day, but that, even now, he can rewrite your story for the good.
Tim Keller makes this observation about the ending of The Lord of the Rings: “Sam Gamgee wakes up, thinking everything is lost and discovering instead that all his friends were around him, he cries out: ‘Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead! Is everything sad going to come untrue?’ The answer is yes. And the answer of the Bible is yes. If the resurrection is true, then the answer is yes. Everything sad is going to come untrue.”
Everything sad in Jay and Katherine’s life has not yet come untrue, since Katherine still struggles with many physical challenges because of her stroke. But Jay and Katherine know they do not serve a callous God who does not care about their lives. They know the God of love who gives them glimpses of his resurrection life amidst physical disabilities and unmet dreams. They know that one day the Jesus they serve will make all the sad things come untrue. But, until then, they will keep proclaiming their faith in the One who can breathe life into their darkest moments and saddest turns of events. Their example encourages us to be open in new ways to the life God wants to pour into us today.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What “sad things” break your heart the most that Jesus might want you to address?
Have you personally experienced a resurrection life moment that can be a witness to God’s power to transform?
Do you find it hard to believe that God’s heart breaks for a painful reality that you or someone close to you are experiencing?
Have you found it possible in your own life to experience God’s life and love while still suffering from some kind of brokenness in this world (physical, emotional, relational, financial, cultural)?
Does the vision of God’s future redeemed world encourage you in some way today to serve others going through pain and heartache?
Father, thank you that you are a God who cares for us deeply. I believe that Jesus will return one day to make all the sad things come untrue and I want to be a part of giving a glimpse to others of this resurrection life offered in him. Help me not to be afraid to embrace other peoples’ pain, to cry with them, and to remind them that your love has not faded. May I be faithful as a leader who offers real hope that comes only in and through you. Amen.