By Carisse Mickey Berryhill

“Jesus therefore said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead…’ “ John 11:14

“I wish there was someone to tell us just what was best to do.  It’s too bad to have one’s life plans all upset all of a sudden. It leaves one all in a daze as to what to do.”

My Grandmother wrote these words in 1945 when the doctor told her that hardening of the arteries must end my grandfather’s work as a pharmacist.  I think of her words now as I remember my mother’s call 10 years ago to my college dorm.  Neither one of us realized then that, for our family, that call ended most of our assumptions about the shape of our future.  A disabling injury had nearly killed my father, but only later did we see that it had also altered our whole lifestyle.

Such a catastrophe forces us to admit that our expectations for an untroubled future are illusions.  Our lives, our plans, our sense of control over events — these are mists, as James said.  The blast furnace of calamity evaporates them.  When trouble comes, we first feel lost without our future.  We are “all in a daze as to what to do.”  What a help it is to look into the Scriptures and find that believers before us have faced the same tasks!  Where did they find the strength to go on?

Mary and Martha faced this sudden blow; a short illness, and Lazarus was gone.  What were their sources of support in their crisis?  I see in their story, our story; in their strengths, three strengths for us: the love of family and close friends, the community of God’s people, and the hope of the Resurrection.

Family and Close Friends

Mary and Martha had one another, and they had Jesus.  Jesus was so much a part of their family love that when something terrible was happening, they knew He would want to be there. They needed His love and support.  They knew He could be trusted to listen to their honest feelings without reproach: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  They knew He would weep with them. When He came, He wanted to be alone with each of them.  Martha went out to meet Him, and then He called for Mary by name.

In our worst hours, we can trust Him to come to us and share our grief, even if at first we are too numbed to go to Him.

The Community of God’s People

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, He found Mary and Martha surrounded by people who shared their faith in God and had come to offer what comfort they could.  For Mary and Martha, as for our family, many were there, ready to prepare food, to wash clothes, to sit in silence with them, to go with them when they went to weep.

The Hope of the Resurrection

As the shock wears off, and we wonder about a future we had never anticipated, what gives us the capacity to go forward?  What renews our commitment to one another over tiring years, makes us feel that our lives move toward a goal, even though our former dreams are shattered?

We hear, as Martha did, Jesus say, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  We know, as she confessed, that He is “the One who comes into the world” to begin a new creation, a resurrection of all things to a new life.                                                                                                                               Adapted



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