About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring Jesus' life through the book of John. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpcdevo to 39970. We welcome your comments and questions each day.
About the Author: Hi! My name is Abby Perrin and my husband Andrew and I have been members at ZPC since 2015. We live in Zionsville and have a fifth grader, Sam, and a third grader, Leah May. I volunteer in the nursery and also lead a Home Group for fifth grade girls. A former English teacher, I became a nurse after our son Sam spent his first Christmas in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. God used the pain of Sam’s sick infancy to comfort me and be present with me in a powerful way. I am now a Registered Nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at St. Vincent Women’s Hospital, trusting that God can use me to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor 1:4)
Scripture: John 11
Today’s devotional focuses on John 11, which gives the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. It's a story with a miraculous ending, a joyful ending, the ending everyone was hoping for. While the raising of Lazarus is a beautiful testament to the power and glory of God, it is the verses leading up to the happy ending that speak most loudly to me.
This Christmas, there are many, many people who are in the midst of grief, and the joy of Christmas only serves to magnify their pain. John 11 demonstrates clearly to us that Jesus is present in our pain. He did not just raise Lazarus from the dead; he first mourned alongside Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha.
When Jesus first gets word that Lazarus is sick, Mary and Martha beg him to come right away to heal him. Verses 5 and 6 tell us “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” When Jesus finally goes to Lazarus, Martha says to him, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” (Jn 11:21-22) Martha honestly shares her frustration that Jesus did not come sooner, while also trusting that he can still somehow make things right.
This Christmas, you may find yourself in the same position as Martha. You have experienced a painful loss that makes no sense. You trust God is in control, but waiting for answers or peace is agony. Like Martha, you asked Jesus to come two days ago and he still hasn’t come. Jesus can use these times of frustration and grief to be present with you in a way you would not have otherwise experienced. Jesus uses the death of their brother as an opportunity to mourn alongside Mary and Martha. Verses 33-35 demonstrate Jesus’ empathy as he sees Mary in her grief:
“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.”
Jesus not only sees Mary and Martha’s pain, he is deeply moved and troubled by their pain. He not only sees their tears, he weeps with them. Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead – but he still genuinely mourned with Mary and Martha first. This Christmas we not only celebrate a God who has the power to work miracles, we celebrate a God who cries with us while we wait for them. Immanuel. God With Us.
Thank you that you are God With Us. Thank you that you not only see our pain, but you weep with us. Help us, Lord, to see others in their pain and to show them the same comfort that we ourselves have received from you. Give us eyes to see the hurting and the courage to be present with them in their pain, just as you are present with us.
In Jesus Name, Amen.