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Dead Man Walking: Again, If You Had Been Here . . .

by in Soul Food

"And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. 'The Teacher is here,' she said, 'and is asking for you.' . . . When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' " (John 11:28, 32)

When she sees Jesus, Mary repeats the statement that lands like a question -- or an accusation: "If you had been here . . ." She throws herself at his feet and doesn't ask the one thing all of us have wondered about God's choices at some point: "Why?"

I wonder how often God hears this sentiment from us: "If you had acted, I would not be feeling this pain right now. I would not be alone. I would not be abandoned. Where were you, God?"

Is it okay to ask that question? I think so. Many of God's most faithful servants have questioned His decisions with great eloquence and emotion: Abraham pleading for Sodom. Moses pleading for the Israelites. David in the Psalms. Even Jesus a few days from this moment would shout out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"

We'll see tomorrow that God's heart breaks with ours in response to the pain of death and grieving. I don't believe He resents our honest questions about His plans, but we cut off our source of comfort if we refuse to keep trusting Him because we don't like how He has spent His power. We've got to trust His heart and keep waiting for the resurrection.

Think: Have you ever distanced yourself from God because you couldn't understand why He would let something terrible happen in your life? What might be a better response when we feel that way toward Him? Can you express that feeling and stay close to Him at the same time?

Pray: Ask God to help you to trust Him -- and to allow Him to provide you with comfort through the Holy Spirit -- even when He doesn't keep a hard thing from happening in your life.

Do: Read Revelation 21:1-4 and notice the short list of things God immediately reverses at the end of time. (Hint: "There will be no more . . .")

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