There is compassion in the pain

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The story of Lazarus is really striking a cord with me this morning. The story is written below.

“Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.

30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”

38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 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.””

I think there is so much here to uncover. One, this really happened, and that alone is beautiful, but most of all I see the tenderness of Jesus so much in this story. I’m going to try to unpack all that I feel the Lord saying in this.

When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick and was going to die, he stayed where he was for two days. He didn’t immediately move to interfere with the sickness. He didn’t come to the rescue like they thought he would. He stayed where he was for two more days.

When I read that my mind takes me to Martha and Mary’s house. Martha is worried and Mary is probably assuring her that Jesus will be here at any moment. He loves them after all. He would never let Lazarus die. “I trust him” I can hear Mary say and she does, she trusts Jesus because she’s seen him heal before.

When Jesus finally enters their town, Bethany, Lazarus has been buried in his tomb for four days. Four.

Martha and Mary hear that Jesus is in town, Martha goes to him, Mary does not. “But Mary remained seated in the house”

This is when I start to get emotional. From previous stories we know Mary loves Jesus. We know her passion for him. The fact that Mary doesn’t run to Jesus immediately signals something wrong.

I can feel the disappointment that Mary is simmering in. I’ve felt that same disappointment. She was confident that Jesus would come and Lazarus would not die. When he didn’t come I think she began questioning if he really loved them. If he loved her he would have came, right? If he loved them Lazarus would be alive and this pain and disappointment wouldn’t be in the pit of her stomach. Surely Jesus didn’t want her to bury her only brother. Why didn’t he come? Where was he when she cried out for him?

Martha tells Jesus what Mary emphasizes later. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus talks to her about resurrection and life and believing in Him. Martha responds almost robotically. Yeah, Lord, I KNOW BUT……

Martha tells Mary that Jesus is asking for her, I can hear him ask it; Where is my Mary? Please, have her come to me. I think Jesus knows she’s hurt, I think he knows she’s disappointed.

When Mary hears that Jesus asks for her she runs to him. I love that. Sometimes in pain and disappointment and fear we just want Him to call us near. We want to trust that he sees us even if we are mad at him.

When Mary sees Jesus, she falls at his feet and cries “if you would have been here Lazarus would still be alive.”

How many times have we cried this out to God? WHERE WERE YOU? if you were here this wouldn’t have happened.

Jesus saw Mary and all the people caring for them crying and he was moved with compassion. Let’s remember that Jesus didn’t wait because he didn’t care. He waited because it was going to bring glory to God. Lazarus’s death was going to be a time where people saw God for who he was.

In the midst of Jesus knowing what was going to happen he cries. They take him to the tomb and he weeps.

Even when we don’t see his plan, even when we distrust him he comes close and is compassionate towards us. He enters into our pain even with his knowledge of what is to come for us.

While he’s crying the people that were with Mary and Martha say “couldn’t he have saved him? Why is he crying, if he opened the eyes of a blind man he could have saved Lazarus”

In times of despair there are voices around us ready to agree with our fear. If God was good why did he let this happen to you? If he was really God he would have stopped it.

All the while He’s choosing to feel your pain and weep next to you.

All this goes down and he tells Martha to open the tomb. Open it to your dead brother. Open the wound that feels too painful to see. He wants us to trust him with our pain because he’s about to do something incredible.

They open the tomb, and Jesus prays thanking God that he has heard him. He says

“I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”

He cried out with a loud voice “ LAZARUS COME OUT” and he did. He came out with linen strips bound around his feet and his face wrapped in cloth. He came out. He was ALIVE.

I believe sometimes God waits to respond to our crisis because he has something beautiful waiting afterwards. I believe that this life is not about us and what God can do for us, it’s about what we can do for Him. When he allows hard things to happen to us, it’s never because he doesn’t love us, it’s because he knows that he will be glorified, that people will hear your story and they will believe in him. He’s using you so that others may have hope.

When I read this story I see his grace all around. I see how gentle he is even when we accuse him of being absent. He looks at us with compassion and asks to see the tomb.

What has died in your life that you blame God for? What have you lost that he’s waiting to make beautiful, that he’s waiting to show you the miracle, and the purpose of the pain. Let’s invite him into the tomb friends, let’s let him unbind us and set us free.

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I’m going to stop telling myself “I’m enough”.

“After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.  Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.  Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.  Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.  Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
John 6:1-14

 

I’m constantly preaching to myself, and making sure I believe that I truly am enough. I am enough for my husband and for the ministry I’m in. I’m enough for my friends and for my family. Who I am is enough.

I’m starting to question that.  I’m wondering if allowing myself to believe who I am enough is not causing me more stress and anxiety.

If I am enough than I could do all the things I’m supposed to do.  I could fulfill all of my husband’s wants and needs. He would never need to do anything else because I am enough.
If I am enough my family would understand my love for them and know that I am always there for them even when I’m far away, because I am enough.
If I am enough than I would always know that my body is beautiful and I would never believe lies about myself, because I am enough.
If I am enough than I would always feel competent at my job and know that I’m making an impact because I am enough.

All of those things leave me dry because I’m trying so hard to be “enough.” I’m trying to live up to expectations that are unrealistic.

When Jesus feeds the five thousand they have five loaves of bread and two fish.  What does he do? He says “give me what you have”.  After everyone eats, all five thousand of them, they have leftovers.  They have more than enough, they are overflowing.

I am starting to realize that I was never meant to be enough.  Jesus is asking me to give him what I have and he will do the rest.  He is the one that is enough, not me. I can be the person Jesus has called me to be, but, it will never be able to fill the people around me because that is not my job.  My husband is supposed to fill himself by going to the Lord, my family is supposed to rely on the knowledge of Christ to get them through the day, my friends are supposed to trust the heavenly power of Jesus to bring them to redemption.  I am not the savior of the world, Jesus is.  I can work my hardest at my job, but at the end of the day I am not the one who carries the ministry, Jesus is.

I think it’s time for me to let go of being enough, maybe it’s time for you to let it go, too.  I’m ready to trust Jesus again, I’m ready to have twelve baskets full of leftovers from my fives loaves of bread.  I’m ready for Jesus to take the small amount of hope and joy and love that I have in me and multiply it to extend to thousands of people.  I think it’s okay if we let go, I think it’s okay if we disappoint people and say no sometimes, because we don’t have to fill everyone all the time.  We can just be and know that Jesus truly has fulfilled every desire inside of us. It is exhausting trying to always enough.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6

I can let go of being enough, and know that I’m not and that is okay.

When you think you hear, and you pretend to know what you’re doing.

My previous blog was about how I believed that staying here at home was better than going to Ireland.
I prayed fervently over that decision and I honestly still didn’t really know what the Lord was saying to me.
I eventually made the decision based on what I believed about each place and where I needed to be in this season of my life.
I was scared of making the wrong decision, but to be honest since the decision was made I haven’t really given it a second thought.  I went on living my life here fully engaged with the life flowing around me and the people loving next to me.
Of course, Ireland, being a pure love of mine was thought of often.  My friends there and the life being spread all over that place.  But the decision I made to stay seemed to really be the only real option, after awhile.

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I recently talked to my friend from Northern Ireland and asked him how everything in Encounter was going.
///Encounter being the main reason I would have gone to Ireland.////
He told me after this year they will no longer be taking anyone other than the staff of the church into the program.
So anyone outside of Ireland that applied was told they were not able to Join the Encounter program.
My heart stopped in that moment and I began to worship my God.
The verse about hearing and knowing your shepherds voice kept replaying over and over again in my head;

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But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
John 10:2-5

 

If I would have continued pursuing the idea of going to Ireland and joining the Encounter program, it wouldn’t have worked out.  I would have had to stay home in the long run anyways.
It’s actually hilarious how surprised I was that I made the right decision and Jesus actually was deeply rooted in that decision.
He knew exactly where I needed to be and who I needed to be with.

In the moments where I think I hear the Lord’s voice and I have to pretend to know what i’m doing I’m just going to remember that I know the character of my God.  I know his footsteps and where he wants me to go in the long run.
I know that he works everything for good. 

I am not alone in the decisions I make and I will not be left out to dry.
My God is good, and my heart is filled.

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One of the perks of staying was this man choosing to pursue me and love me like Jesus does.

 

His fullness is enough.

 
And from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.  
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side,
 he has made him known. 
-John 1:16-18
 
 
 
There is a common theme being taught to me over and over again, each time more in depth and more soul crushing, humbling, and amazing.  It has nothing to do with me, It has nothing to do with what I can achieve, or how I can justify myself. HIS FULLNESS is what makes me enough. His fullness is more than enough to cover every inch of my empty shell.  I never have to be afraid of being full because he is full for me. He is enough, so that means I am enough. 
 

ImageI had a small breakdown yesterday evening to where I just laid on my living room floor and cried.  I eventually called Hannah, and in-between ragged breaths asked her to pray for me.  My heart was tired and all I could do was lay there and cry.  All I wanted to do was lay there and cry because I was tired of fighting, I was exhausted because I was trying to be enough for people, I was trying to justify myself over and over again so they wouldn’t think I was wasting my time. 
“I don’t want to be here anymore.”
“I’m wasting my time.”
“I’m not doing anything.” 

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“God is not moody or capricious.
He knows no seasons of change.
He has a single relentless stance toward us: He loves us.”

-Brennan Manning


I keep getting the same questions since I’ve been home; and they have nothing to do with my trip. 
“So what are you doing now?”
“Are you working, are you going to school?”
I know these questions are asked out of good intent and curiosity, but each of their faces after I answer these questions are what haunt me.  
“I’m working with the youth at Lockwood.” 
“I’m not working or going to school right now.” 
As soon as I tell them I am currently not in school or working I’m out, they write me off and their faces show their disappointment in me, I am not being a productive member to society and I will never make it in life If i cannot support myself. 
The expectations they have for my life allow for lies to seep into any small crack in my armor. 
I’m not doing anything.”

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As I lay here this morning with no job to get to, and no classes to study for, I’m thankful. 
I’m thankful I have time to drench my soul in the word, constantly. 
I’m thankful I can sit and have lunch with my dad. 
I’m thankful I can take my sister out for bike rides, and for ice cream dates. 

I’m thankful I can go to the youth sleepover tonight because I dont have to wake up for work the next morning. 

I’m thankful that his calling is enough. 
Not even his calling, HIM. 
I’m so thankful that he and his fullness represent me. That I do not have to justify myself because He alone is my justification. My life is what He wants it to be.  I’m sorry people of this world, I am currently unemployed and I am not a student at the moment.  You may think my life is going nowhere and I am ruining my life. 
But my hope is not in having a “good life”, my hope is living a life that is a sweet fragrance to my King. 

I am enough, because he is far more than enough. 

What lies are you letting hold you back from what Jesus has for you, today?