Evidence of Things Not Seen
“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35 KJV).
This, the shortest verse in the King James version of the Bible, used to perplex me. Jesus waited four days after hearing his good friend Lazarus was sick before coming to see how he was. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. But still, why did Jesus weep? After all, being the Son of God He was in direct communication with his Father. He already knew he was going to perform the miracle that would not only bring Lazarus back to life but would also dry the tears of his sisters and friends. So why cry when you know what is about to happen is going to blow everyone’s sandal straps right off? I didn’t get it.
Eventually, I came across something someone else had written about his verse. It made sense.
The fact that Lazarus even had to go through this at all made Jesus weep. That Mary and Martha had been full of sorrow for four days made Him weep. The fall of all creation made Jesus weep. He saw it all with His own eyes… how death still takes lives of loved ones. People still cry. Sickness still abounds. He knew he would bring Lazarus back from the dead after four days in the tomb. But he knew countless others who would not experience a miracle such as this one. He just couldn’t stand the thought of that in the moment.
This has helped me many times over the last few years. I have (often, I admit) wondered if God forgot about me and if He cared at all. For four decades I had seen powerful ways in which he worked in my life. He had healed me from serious mental illness in my twenties. He miraculously healed my grief after I lost both brother and father to suicide. He took care of me when damaging relationships threatened to swallow me whole. He restored all I had lost. When I ran from Him, He relentlessly pursued me. I had seen His love more times than I could count. I felt I was moving forward in life, and it was getting better and better. Then things began to change.
In the year 2000 I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my neck. For a year, the pain was unbearable. I cried out to God, and two hours later I got an unexpected phone call. There was help on the way. After multiple MRI’s that did not show why I was hurting, a chiropractor did a few adjustments and I was relieved of pain that was making me almost suicidal. I wanted to do cartwheels. I wanted to grab strangers on the street and tell them what God had done for me.
I was on my feet again, but then, about six years later, I found out I had developed an aggressive brain tumor. When the brain tumor was discovered, a neurosurgeon told me it was inoperable and I had about a year to live (in 2006). I prayed. God led me to another surgeon who saved my life.
It was the “why” I was having trouble with. I am disabled now…and everything’s hard. It’s hard to see…hard to hear…hard to walk. I have chronic pain. Each day is a challenge. But even so, I have hope.
My hope is not based on what I see now…it’s actually based on what I have experienced in the past and what I hope for in the future. I have seen God’s hand in my life many times over the last forty years. So even though I don’t understand what is happening now, I have faith that things are going to change. I’ve seen this pattern in the past. I don’t know when things will change. It may even be at the time of my death. But that’s ok, because I believe “I” will never die…only this tired body will go back to the dust from which it came.
I used to wonder if God didn’t care about what I am going through. I now believe it hurts Him to see it. He hurts when we hurt. It may even make Him weep. He never wanted any of these things to happen to me. But I live in a fallen world. There’s sickness, tears, and death. He overcame them on the cross, but it has yet to become a reality. The plan was His all along and this part of it was set in motion with His death and resurrection. He conquered death on the cross. Now, He’s wrapping things up.
Yes, he could do a miracle, like He did with Lazarus. He could have kept me from falling down the stairs. He has done things like that in my past. He could have kept me from getting the brain tumor in the first place.
I don’t know why he didn’t perform a Lazarus type miracle for me, but I know how I have changed as a person as a result of my suffering, and that is far more important. I can tell I haven’t learned all the lessons He wants to teach me yet. I am still impatient. I can still be ungrateful. I do not love others perfectly. Maybe I’ll learn those lessons here in my time on earth; maybe I’ll finally get it in an instant after death.
In the Bible, Hebrews, chapter 11, is considered to be where “faith” is explained. Those verses used to confuse me too. Verses 1 and 2 say, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” After these verses, Paul goes on to talk about creation, and then Abel’s faith, then Enoch’s, Noah’s, then Abraham’s.
Then he says something interesting. I think many people skip right over this and don’t give it another thought. Paul wrote in verse 13, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised.”
That can happen?
What does it mean to have faith even if you don’t see the thing that is promised?
I live my life as if I believe that God created the earth and all that is in it, including mankind. My life is lived as if I believe that God sent His only begotten Son to save me from my sin. I live my life as if I believe that I will get to live with him and my loved ones forever in a much better place. I live my life as if I believe that this earth will be renewed one day, and made perfect, and that there will be a good and perfect leader in charge of all. And that leader is love personified. I think what I do while I’m here will make a difference. I truly believe that. Even if it’s behind a computer screen.
I also believe Maine exists even though I have never been there. I have seen pictures of Maine, but pictures can be Photoshopped. I have been taught about its existence in the books I read in school. I have seen maps. But I have never been there. I believe Maine exists anyway. I know people who have been there.
I have also read accounts of Jesus in the Bible. I have seen maps of where he traveled. I choose to believe they are true even though I didn’t live back then. I know plenty of people who have experienced Him in ways that are beyond the possibility of coincidence, including myself. That’s all the faith I need.
I believe there is evidence that Jesus shed his own blood on the cross in order that I may live. Because of that, I believe that my life may still get better before I die…and if not, I have an even better life ahead.