Monday, March 27, 2017

Daily Devotion for Lent 2017 - Day 23, Monday

Today's Reading: John 11:17-37 (NRSV)

"Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Both Martha and Mary say this to Jesus in today's passage.  We empathize with them and many people in their grief may feel the same way.  When we have lost one whom we love, we often feel the absence of God more distinctly than the presence of God.

Most people have prayed for the healing of one we know who has died.  It becomes more difficult when it is for a righteous cause such as for a child or young person who would normally have a lot of living left in front of them.  In these instances, it becomes confusing to us when we may see some healed of their affliction and some pass away.

We want to say, "God, if you had been here, my loved one would not have died."
Sometimes the despair in our lives
is tangible.

Jesus reminds us that his presence goes deeper than this reality.  He makes the fifth of the "I am" statements, declaring, "I am the resurrection and the life."  We embrace this for an understanding of hope that moves us beyond this life and into the life to come. Resurrection and life confront us in our grief.  Sometimes we can only hold onto death because it seems so final and real.  Yet resurrection and life are for both this reality and the life to come.  Living people may experience these things in Christ.

Jesus is moved by their grief and begins to weep in this story.  This is another reminder that when we grieve, God grieves with us.  It is okay for Christians to be sad.  It is okay for Christians to cry at our loss.  It is okay for Christians to grieve deeply because we miss our loved ones.  And we remember that Jesus weeps with us.

Sometimes, we need the resurrection and the life to come to us in the midst of our lives. We need re-birth because something has wounded us within our souls.  When this happens, we pray with confidence for the Lord of life to come to us and renew us and make us whole.

Prayer for the day:

O God, you rule over your creation with tenderness,
offering fresh hope in the midst of the most terrible misery.
We pray for our brothers and sisters whose souls are blackened by despair, 
infusing them with the pure light of your love.
As they curse the day they were born and yearn for oblivion, 
reveal to them the miracle of new birth which shall prepare them for the joys of heaven.

    Adapted from Dimma, 7th Century Irish Monk

Photo by Vandan Desai via  Used under the Creative Commons license.

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