“If you had been here…”

IMG_0980“If you had been here my brother would not have died.” Martha dared to look into the face of her Lord and claim this truth. Can you imagine… Her rage and her sorrow? The love and the loss that flowed through her in that moment, standing in the very presence of her God but forevermore absent from her brother.

“If you had been here my brother would not have died.”

She was right, of course. Jesus chose not to travel to Bethany when he heard the news of Lazarus’ illness. A choice that suggests that Jesus himself agreed with Martha’s assertion – If he had been there, Lazarus would not have died, and so Jesus could not come… Did not come… So that Lazarus might, in fact, die.

For surely, if he had rushed to Lazarus’ bedside, the breath of life would have spilled out of him. Jesus saves, he lavishes life. It’s what he does – who he is. We only have to ask – believe – and goodness, hope, glory overflows. Life abundant. Grace sufficient.

But without Jesus’ presence – his power – Lazarus died while his sisters looked on, helpless, and the women buried his body even while pondering the absence of their Lord.  They mourned in a spirit of confusion and disappointment. And so it was, Jesus didn’t come to me either, on the cold day in February when I needed him most.  I asked him to.  I expected him to… but he didn’t come.

“Lord, if you had been here, my son would not have died.”  It’s a bold truth, but one I believe adamantly. Jesus didn’t come that day, apparently on purpose, and he didn’t come the next day or the day after that, and even now – I wait.

I just don’t understand!! If Jesus wanted Lazarus alive, why wait until he was already dead??? And if Jesus is in fact coming again, promising to bring with him eternal life for myself and my son, why did he have to leave at all??

“The purpose of the illness is not death, but glory.” Jesus explains gently. His cryptic words express the intentionality in Jesus’s delay… while his tears express the great cost. Lazarus had to die, in the same way Jesus had to die… and Graham too… It’s not about death at all really… and it’s also all about death, somehow.  I feel confused but also full of wonderment.

I wonder if the very reason Jesus left this earth for heaven all those years ago, was for the same reason he waited to travel to Bethany until Lazarus was already dead and buried… Perhaps he left us here, amidst the confusion and disappointment, so that my son might die… That I might share in the story of Mary and Martha, that I might share in Christ’s glory… so that Graham could too.

Regardless, Jesus has promised to come, and just as he made his way to Mary and Martha… To the remnants of a shattered family… He will certainly come to me, and so I wait in ruin and with expectation, because when Jesus did finally show up, even the filth of decay could not hold back the life that spilled from him!

“Lazarus come out!”

I can almost taste the glory of that moment – of my moment yet to come!



imageOver the past several months my husband and I have been applying for disability and life insurance. So much red tape… I’ve had three separate interviews regarding my medical history, pregnancies, doctor visits, medications… They ask mind numbing questions regarding dates and time periods… The anxiety is overwhelming as I try to give them what they are asking for.

Due dates, death dates, how old, how long, where was I? Who was? Before or after? Happy or sad? Everyone is especially interested in the antidepressants and sleeping pills I took after Graham’s death. I had one final interview to seal the deal… But I’d been putting it off. I hadn’t really thought through the ‘why’, I just couldn’t seem to make the phone call.

My agent kept calling to remind me, sending emails and texts… I felt so humiliated every time I had to tell him I hadn’t done it yet… And I couldn’t begin to explain the truth – I couldn’t articulate my brokenness, I couldn’t begin to understand it myself…

How every date in my life, every experience, every medication is mixed up with the life and death of my precious son… How explaining it all to a stranger who didn’t care was somehow just too much… How I couldn’t physically make myself pick up the phone, dial the number and tell a stranger that the death of my son made me crazy, but I wasn’t crazy anymore… when of course, I am.

Deep in the darkness of my heart and soul, I am fucked up. I can’t even dial a phone number that I actually want to dial. I can’t stomach the fact, that to a faceless voice on the other end of the phone, the whole of Graham’s life is nothing more than a prescription for antidepressants.

And so, the agent kept texting and calling, becoming more and more perturbed. “Your application is being deactivated, you’ve run out of time,” he finally explained. I had waited too long to do this seemingly reasonable thing.

In a rush of humiliation and frustration, I called the number… And began answering more of the same questions. My heart thudded inside of me, my hand quivered in my lap.  As sweat oozed from the back of my neck, my mind went slowly fuzzy.  All I could see was Graham’s face in front of me.

“Would you consider yourself cured?” the stranger asked robotically.
“Yes,” I said dully.
“So, you are no longer experiencing any symptoms?”
“Right, I’m fine now.”
“Well, thank you for your time. That’s all we need.”

I hung up the phone and threw up.

I have come to see beauty in the ugly. Goodness in the suffering. It’s true after all and it’s also just a coping mechanism.

Real brokenness is a fucking shit hole.