Too many tragedies have crashed into our world lately. I cannot think of the sorrow so many parents must endure without tears spilling from my eyes. I shudder with fear for my loved ones, my dear friends, and for all of us who must continue on in this world threatened by evil.
My heart is crushed when I hear people say, “Where was God? Why did He allow this to happen?”
I, too, want to ask Him, “Why?” I know that I want to ask this because I do not know God as I should. My finite mind has limited Him to what I can understand and these situations fall outside of that understanding.
At the end of the year, I try to finish reading all the books that I’ve started during the year and never completed. This led me, providentially, to Scandalous by D.A. Carson. In chapter 4 he discusses A Miracle Full of Surprises (John 11:1-53) when Jesus came to Bethany four days after Lazarus had died.
“But ‘when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping’ – this is noisy now; not quietly-dab-your-tears but first-class noise – ‘he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.’ There is no way that the original text should be rendered that way . . . this is just a plain flat-out mistake in translation. It means ‘he was outraged’ (not ‘deeply moved’). That is what this verb always means whenever it is applied to human beings. . . Probably the fact that Jesus wept is what has constrained some people to render the earlier verb ‘he was deeply moved.’ but that is simply not what it means. Jesus was outraged! But why? And why did he weep? Why these responses? They seem so surprising.
It was surely not because he was powerless and frustrated. He was only minutes from one of his most spectacular miracles. Nor is it that he feels forced into doing a miracle . . . This was the very reason he came down south to Bethany. Nor is it simply that he misses his friend Lazarus, as if Jesus’ tears at the loss of Lazarus are essentially analogous to our tears at the loss of a loved one. . .
Jesus sees all these people weeping, crying, and wailing in the face of implacable death, and he is outraged. He is profoundly troubled, so emotionally worked up over it that he weeps. There is a compassion in these tears, but there is also outrage. Jesus is outraged not because he has lost a friend but because of death itself. Death is such an ugly enemy. It generates endless and incalculable anguish. And for anyone steeped in the entire biblical heritage death itself is a mark of sin.
How is death introduced to the race? Death itself is nothing other than God’s insistence that human hubris will go so far and no farther. It is God’s judicial response to our warped rebellion. . . We are sinners, and we will die. Every time there is death, it still hurts. It is still painful. It is still ugly. and it is still the result of sin. This was not the way God made the creation in the first place. Jesus is outraged by the whole thing. He is outraged by the death that has called forth this loss, by the sin that lies behind that, and by the unbelief that characterizes everyone’s response to it. There is outrage, and there is grief.
. . . [The Bible] dares to recognize death as the last enemy. Death is an enemy, and it can be a fierce one. Death is not normal when you look at it from the vantage point of what God created in the first place. It is normal this side of the fall, but that is not saying much. It is an enemy. It is ugly. It destroys relationships. It is to be feared It is repulsive. There is something odious about death. Never ever pretend otherwise. But death does not have the last word. It is the last enemy, but more to be feared yet is the second death. Thank God for a Savior who could claim, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ Thus when we come to grips with these things, there needs to be both outrage and pain on the one hand and trust and quiet confidence on the other. The appropriate mingling of these things together is part of a genuinely Christian response to the ugliness, shock, terror, and loss of death. We begin to understand, and we sorrow, but not as those who have no hope.”
When I pause to consider the Almighty God outraged at the evil that continues because of sin entering into the world – to know that He weeps and grieves far deeper than I – to know that He gave His life to pay my debt – my sorrow melts into His great love.
He is not far away but “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18