When I was about 14 years old, I was in that stubborn phase where I didn’t talk to my parents a whole lot. You know, going to my room, shutting the door, talking to my friends, gaining my independence. You know, a teenager.
My dad didn’t quite know how to get me out of that obstinate phase, although he was pretty close to Superman if you ask me. Wise and smart and strong and funny and a hero. Even so, I kept to myself and my friends in that stubborn mode I was in.
Until that summer.
My dad asked me to work in his office. I was good at math, and he needed some assistance with number crunching and account transfers. I agreed.
We would drive together in his car, silence paramount.
I would work. Eat lunch in my cubicle. Work some more.
And then, we would drive home with me staying in my cocoon.
Until one day he did something that changed everything.
He asked me to go to lunch with him during the work day.
He had a million and one things to do. So many clients and coworkers he could go to lunch with.
But he asked ME to lunch.
That was the beginning of my dad and me being two peas in a pod. He got me and I got him. He was adventurous and so was I. He was curious and asked questions and I could see he cared deeply about getting to know me. I mattered to him and he showed it by asking me to lunch.
We laughed, we smiled, we talked. Those quiet car rides became comfortable and chatty as we listened to my music in his convertible, our hair blowing in the wind. We had an awesome summer.
I’m so grateful for my dad, that he didn’t chalk it up to teen years and walk the other way and not invest in me. That he kept leaning into me, despite my folded arms. That he asked me to lunch to get to know me more.
Looking back, I guess what moved me was that I felt seen and cared about and loved.
It makes me think of our relationship with the Lord and how He pursues us. Even when we’re in that place of deep grief, grappling with unanswered questions, hurting because of things that happened that don’t make sense.
We can get quiet in our grief, tired of religion, tired of easy answers, and tired of the clichés that don’t add up after going through something difficult.
But this story of my dad reminds me of how the Lord is relentless in pursuing us right where we are.
If you’re in a season where you’re quiet. Where you are having a hard time talking with God, or you’re just enveloped in quietness and stillness because you’re grappling with grief and difficulty. That’s okay. THE LORD IS STILL THERE. He will pursue you.
He pursued that one lost hurting lamb and lifted him up on His shoulders.
He appeared to Thomas in his doubts and was there for him.
When Martha was deep in grief over her brother Lazarus dying, Jesus was there for her too.
Martha brought her grief to Jesus. She didn’t hide her pain from Him. She didn’t reject Him. She didn’t pretend to have it all together.
In John 11, Martha says to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Standing right there in front of Jesus, she opened her heart of confusion and pain.
Authentic. Real. Honest. That’s how God wants us to be with Him.
Then Martha said, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Even though she didn’t have tidy answers—far from it—she still believed. She chose to. It’s okay if sometimes we aren’t feeling it and we’re having to just choose to believe and doing what we can because our heart is in so much pain. Jesus still shows up. He is still there with you right where you are and how you are.
The chapter continues: “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus shifted her eyes from the here and now, and lifted them up to Him, to eternity, to believing in Him.
It can be so hard to rip our eyes away from the here and now when we have bleeding hearts. But the Lord brings a great promise here. He is inviting you to something so beyond the here and now. He is inviting you into fellowship with Him that will last forever. Yes, weeping may remain for a night, but joy does come in the morning.
That was Jesus’ greater message. Life does not end here.
While Lazarus was eventually resurrected, he would die one day. Because of this, Jesus was asking Martha to lift her eyes higher to Him.
And He asks you this question too. You might have similar unanswered questions of why something has happened, wondering why there wasn’t a different outcome after so much prayer, or sitting in grief that sears your heart deeply.
Jesus lifts your face up and says to you in the middle of the questions: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
There is hope beyond here.
Martha, in her grief, answered Jesus’ question: “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus asked Martha to get her sister, Mary. And Mary fell at His feet and says the same thing: “‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.”
There was no reprimand by Jesus. No frustration in His voice. No anger at her honesty. Just tears of compassion.
“Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’”
Some of the people had honest questions. But Jesus had a higher purpose—He was getting ready to glorify God by raising Lazarus from the dead.
Jesus was trying to shift their eyes from the now to the eternal. Lazarus being raised from the dead is a reflection not only of God’s power but also that one day we will be resurrected and live forever if we believe in Jesus. Isn’t that such a great hope?
It’s okay if grief and tears cover your lap right now.
Joy comes in the morning.
It’s okay if you have questions.
Joy comes in the morning.
It’s okay if you’re wrestling.
Joy comes in the morning.
There is a greater hope.
Whether you feel like you’re in the car sitting in silence, or at the lunch table connecting and cherishing your time with the Lord, God will continue to pursue you because He loves you.
You’re worth it to Him.
He welcomes you as you are. From there, He will lift you up to be closer to Him.