Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mary, sister of Lazarus -- Unanswered Questions

John 11:32 - "Lord, if you had been there ... "

“Where were you?” she called out, crying as she ran to him. “You could have saved him.” Exhausted from four days of mourning, Mary collapsed in front of Jesus. “You could have--” her voice cracked, “you could have saved my brother.” She waited for the question to be answered, but the man who claimed to be God said nothing.

Speak to me, her eyes pleaded. Yet Jesus continued to remain quiet. His silence only seemed to tear deeper into her exposed wound. Having suffered her brother’s recent death, the apparent unresponsiveness to her question gnawed at her already raw emotions. She dropped her face into her hands, muffled her crying and then mouthed the words, Where were you?

Though friends had followed her out to the tomb offering their support, Mary found no rest in their kindness. There was no assurance in their words. She needed to hear from the God who came to Earth as a man; she had to feed upon the voice of her Creator. Please, the dire prayer formed on her lips, answer me …

The death of her brother was horrible enough, but to be seemingly ignored by the one who created her was an unbearable isolation. She might as well have been tossed into a heavy sack and thrown into a deep, bottomless well.

But then the unexpected happened. Mary lowered her hands and found her answer, but it did not come from the lips of Jesus; it came from his face. She saw that he was moved by her anguish and that his spirit was troubled as he watched those around also hurting.

Jesus wept.

The Creator of the universe was left speechless when posed with a simple question. Where were you? Her God was answering, but in a way Mary could never have imaged -- He was weeping with her.

How do you think your own difficult questions are answered?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bride of Solomon -- Identity

Song of Solomon 2:2 - "Like a lily among thorns."

"There is nothing unique about me," she sighed, staring at her dulled reflection atop a pool of muddied water. "I'm just as all the others." The young girl had referred to herself as a "rose of Sharon," a common variety of rose that blanketed field upon field. But among so many thorned flowers, could a single bloom be distinguished from all the others? And among the masses, could one ever hope to be discovered? To be desired?

The king's bride saw herself as such, but Solomon saw so much more. Though considered improper, his first sight of her left him unconsciously staring. When she spoke, her convictions stirred his own passions. And though the king had possibly tried explaining such things to those closest around him, perhaps this "wisest of all" fumbled over his words, never able to fully understand his own feelings about her.

Did this king finally discover one rare wildflower hidden among the many that continually sought after his affections? The answer is a reassuring and tender "yes."

And upon hearing his lover's condenming self-evaluation of insignificance, he would not stay silent. The king would never want for her to again misjudge her treasured identity. Solomon recorded for history to understand that his bride was a "lily among thorns."

What identity do you find in youself?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hagar - Discarded

Genesis 16:7 - "The Lord found her ... "

Tangled, unavoidable webs. Sometimes we are pulled into relationships we’d just as well like to avoid. And to make the situation worse, sometimes the very ones meant to provide safety and support are the same ones that ignite our problems.

Well into old age, Abraham and Sarah were given the promise of a child by a God they trusted. They waited. And waited. But no child came. Embarressed and ashamed, Sarah found a solution -- "I’ll give my maid, Hagar, to my husband." So as custom dictated, Sarah gave her servant Hagar to Abraham to bear him a child. But Hagar was not responsible for what only God could do; it was a task the servant could never fulfill.

During Hagar’s pregnancy, she encountered resentment and jealousy from Sarah. Abraham - the father of the expectant girl - was afraid to step in and defend the servant girl. At Sarah's prompting, Hagar was forced into the desert, alone and frightened. But she wasn't alone.

An angel of God came to Hagar as she staggared through the wilderness. He said, "... the Lord has given heed to your affliction." The servant girl had not been forgotten. Hagar returned to her mistress, but when Sarah eventually birthed her own baby - the promised child - Hagar was once again discarded by her mistress. "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Issac." (Gen 21:12) There was not even a morsel of pity offered to Hagar's baby -- the very child Sarah intended to be her husband's heir.

Once again, alone in the desert with only her young son, Hagar eventually ran out of water and food. She cried out and God heard this discarded woman. He lead her to water and gave her life to see her son grow into a strong, skillful warrior.

Though you may be used for the selfish gain of others, God will never forget you.

Prayer - "Lord, though I know times in the desert will come, even by the hand of another, thank You for Your continuous encouragement."