A part of me died.
When I look back over earlier years, I realize how disengaged I was. How fearful, how disoriented, and how numb I felt about life. About liveliness.
Part of me died when I became a victim of incest.
The world no longer sang songs of life, liberty, freedom, or prosperity. Instead, it echoed the hollow drones of sorrow. I just couldn’t shake the sadness inside of me, though on the outside I smiled and laughed.
Maybe you understand that dreadful chorus that belts out the nothingness of life having purpose after you were sexually assaulted.
Some people call it a coping mechanism to withdraw or to retreat internally, refusing to allow oneself to feel anything for fear that the pain, the torture, the agony would return.
Anesthetizing all feeling yields a kind of living death.
Just recently, I heard the story of Lazarus–not for the first time–but rather in a differing light.
Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus.
When Lazarus became sick, Mary and Martha sent for Jesus. They knew deep in their heart that their Jesus could prevent their brother’s death.
Having waited two days after receiving the word about Lazarus, Jesus and the disciples finally made way toward the family.
When Jesus arrived, Lazarus’ sisters both cried out separately to the Lord, “if you had been here, he wouldn’t have died!” In their hearts, they believed Jesus had the power to save Lazarus from death.
They weren’t wrong. Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death.
Upon seeing Martha, Mary, and the crowd of Jews weeping over Lazarus’ death, the text tells us that Jesus was troubled in spirit and wept.
The Jews who had been mourning with Mary and Martha cautioned Jesus as He asked for the stone to be removed, saying, “there’s a stench! He’s been dead four days!”
Four days. Four days Lazarus had been dead.
Jesus raised His eyes to His Father in heaven and thanked Him for always hearing His voice. This exclamation was not for His benefit, but rather for those standing about Him, so that they might believe that Jesus was sent from the Father.
With a loud voice, Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!”
The word reads: “The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.'”
Lazarus died twice.
He died once and was resurrected by Jesus in front of his sisters and many Jews. Then Lazarus died again; this time to await a second resurrection when His Lord returns at the end of time to take all believers to the kingdom of heaven.
So catch this.
I can identify with Lazarus’ death and the emptiness of life he experienced in the tomb. I felt this deep within me; although, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was amiss inside of me. The abuse, the pain, the night terrors suffocated me. How is one to live like that?
I can identify with Mary and Martha. Lord! If you had been there, you could have stopped the abuse. You could have prevented this gruesome violation of your Law, this pain that won’t go away, these haunting images that just won’t go away. Where were you, Lord?
Lazarus’ story doesn’t end in the tomb, does it?
Jesus did show up. Jesus did listen–with His heart–to the sorrow expressed through Mary and Martha’s questions. Jesus wept.
It hurt His heart, too.
Brother, sister in Christ. Don’t you know that Jesus weeps at the death of your innocence?
Again, the story doesn’t end in tears.
Jesus doesn’t just stand around dripping tears and hugging the mourners. No, no. Jesus prays, and He speaks life.
“Lazarus, come forth!”
Jesus speaks life into each one of us who have put our hope and trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins.
This resurrection wasn’t pretty. Linens used for the dead clung and tangled about him. Lazarus must’ve stumbled about as he came forward, unable to see clearly because the cloth on his face.
Listen closely, dear one.
The Lord is calling you to come forth. He desires you to have a full, abundant life. He says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10).
I understand why Jesus delayed in going to Lazarus, because He desired to demonstrate God’s power in Him and to prove that He was and is the Messiah.
Understanding why God delayed in rescuing me from the abuse creates challenges within me. Can I trust Him? Why would He allow this to happen? Will He let it happen again? How in the world could the death of my innocence bring you glory?
These are troublesome questions.
Having said that, Jesus’ question to Martha puts those questions in their proper place. Before Jesus resurrected Lazarus, Jesus asked Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Do you believe this?
Do you believe that Jesus is the I AM, the God above all other gods?
Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection? That He’s the life? That everyone who believes in Him will live–even if he dies? That everyone who believes in Jesus will never die?
See, this is the hardest question to answer. Not the other ones that toy with our head and our healing.
It’s the simple question, Do I believe God for who He says He is?
Will you stay within the darkness, bound by fear and festered with pain?
Or are you willing, when He calls your name, to step forward from the tomb–with all your stink, with all your bandages, and with all your pain–and walk toward Him?
Jesus speaks a foreign language to this world.
He speaks life.
What’s your next step?
What part of this post spoke out to you the most? What feelings did it stir up within you? Find a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted or distracted and ask God to mirror your life. Ask Him to show you how you might live your life with abundance–outside of the tomb.
Join me on the healing journey.
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