Many of the stories in the Bible fascinate me. I love how complex they are, how they speak to all generations. I’ve also found that there’s always an application to every stage of my life. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the story of Lazarus.
The economic circumstances at the end of the last decade impacted many communities and families everywhere. My family was significantly affected. I lost my way because my employer said I was expendable and others said I was too old and expensive. I lost my way because my family couldn’t depend on me and didn’t know how to help me.
I found myself in a deepening spiral of depression, fear and doubt. I found myself asking, why and where are you, Lord? I nearly gave it all up because the place I was in was dark, cold, lonely – and a fair bit stinky.
Did Lazarus lose his way? I don’t know if Lazarus got himself into his place of “sickness and death” as a result of factors of his own doing or outside of his control, but I presume some of each. My point is, Lazarus is me. He is each of us. He is humanity.
We get sick and die when we try to align ourselves with the way of the world and how the world thinks we should be. We waste away – often slowly – in this life that we think we should control. Bound to fear, bound to worry, bound by sight, bound to darkness. Some control…
The story tells us that Jesus didn’t rush to Lazarus when he heard he was sick, or even heal him from afar as he certainly could have done. There was much more that Jesus wanted to teach us. He delayed his travel by 2 days after hearing the message for help from Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. In this time, Lazarus died. But Jesus raised him because Faith heals and makes us well.
My journey through the darkness those several years ago was lit by small, bright flames of Jesus’ love and examples of faith by individuals in my church community. What I learned is faith in God’s love and life, shared often in the case of extreme adversity, is solid bedrock. It is far more important to have this life-preserving foundation than for health and comfort in this life. (I wonder if Lazarus knew this and perhaps did not fear dying?) Faith enables us to rest in God as God keeps us on the move as we grow closer to him.
The raising of Lazarus is the revelation of Jesus and his identity as life-giver. Jesus is an agent of creation, not death. It is faith in him that brought me to new life. Yeah, Jesus took his sweet time to answer the call for help; I’ve come to reflect on this and accept it as “patient progress.” But with the help of the love and light of Jesus through community, progress can and will be made.
“Lazarus, come out!” speaks forth the life that Jesus is calling for all of us, that we will be found.