Monday, June 23, 2008

A Bigger Picture

I have a God whose tears fill the scars that cover my heart. -Lindsay Mizell-

I have two very close friends whose compassion leaves me in awe. Its hard for me to understand how one individual can be so willing and able to help carry the burdens of so many. I love to be around these people, it makes me better - more aware. I will say, however, that it also annoys me a little. I often think they get so caught up in the needs of one they loose sight of the big picture. In my opinion they are in such a hurry to come to the rescue here and now that they forget to address or even recognize root cause of the problem. The simplest example to explain is the belief that pharmaceutical companies are evil and the government should step in and force them to sell medicine at a fair price. In most ways she's pretty conservative, but show her that one old man who can't open the mayo jar because he couldn't afford his arthritis medicine and she goes all to pieces. She wants to government to step in and make his medicine affordable. Now, we all know (as does she) that the problem with that is government sucks at it. Need an example? Check out Canada. The solution to the problem is to keep the government out of it and let the market regulate price. Takes too long for my friend. While we're waiting on that the old guys hands keep right on hurting. The difference between she and I is that she sees the individual in pain now and I see a major problem that needs a long term solution. I do this with everything - except my own life.

A while back in a small group a friend of mine was telling the story of Lazarus and began to talk about Jesus weeping out of compassion for the pain Mary and Martha felt. As he talked about Jesus' compassion he become so moved that he began to cry himself. He looked right at me and through his tears told me that Jesus wept for me, for my pain. It really pissed me off. The part of the Lazarus story that gets me is the part where Jesus waits around for Lazarus to die before he does anything. Lazarus didn't have to die, no one had to hurt. It angered me that Jesus would allow the pain and then act hurt by it himself. If Jesus didn't want Mary and Martha to hurt he should have come when they called him. If he really cared he would not have let them experience that pain.

This story has been difficult for me lately. I've seen so much of the heart of Jesus that is so beautiful. The story of Lazarus seems so strange to me now. It shouldn't - I've seen it played out in my life and the lives of people I love so many times over the last ten years. The only difference is we don't get to see our loved ones resurrected - yet. I know Jesus lets us hurt but I also know he weeps for us. Its difficult for me.

It has occurred to me lately that the reason its so difficult for me to understand is that in this story I'm the one hurting . That makes it difficult to see the big picture. I want God to prevent my hurt - put a band-aid on my wounds. Jesus sees a bigger problem - one that requires a long term solution. Christianity is a long run experience. In the long run the best thing for the world is to see Jesus. The only way to fix the problem is to have God glorified and his name lifted up. Jesus let Lazarus die so we could see that God has power over death. Jesus allowed Mary and Martha to hurt in order to show a dying world that there is hope.

I don't think Jesus wept as much for Mary and Martha as he did for a world that is lost in a broken system. Jesus wept because things are not as they should be. Jesus spoke of his coming kingdom, a kingdom where the blind received sight, where the lame walk and the dead rise. He spoke of a perfect kingdom - free from pain and despair. I believe the man in Jesus wept in longing for that kingdom. I believe the God in him wept because he knew what it would take to usher it in.

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