February in Illinois is a splendid and confounding mix, comprised of blizzards and silvery rain showers, northers howling over the prairie and tentative crocus tips peering up through the snow. We’re never quite certain we’re going to make it, are we?
But Lent is already upon us, and to me this is a beacon in the darkness. I’ll tell you why:
“Lazare veni foras.”
Lazarus, come forth. Best story ever, people. And the reason for this is not so much that beautiful blaze of glory when the man emerged from the tomb as what proceeded it. Jesus wept.
That sticks in the mind, doesn’t it?
Why? Why would this man - this Jesus who was to become something at once as glorious and mundane as a household name – why would He weep?
Well . . . why do we weep? It’s not so hard, is it, to follow that shitty path of discouragement, despair, loss? If you’re reading this, then you’re alive, and if you’re alive, odds are, you’ve been there. We weep because we’re at the end of our rope. Because winter is eternal, because we are exhausted, or maybe because the worst has happened and we will never hear the beloved voice of a friend, a spouse, a parent, a lover, again.
We weep because we’re lost, because we can’t find the light.
We can’t even believe there is a light.
Death doesn’t pick favorites. It’s as random as the smile of a stranger in a crowd, as capricious as March sunshine. It swoops down and plucks one from among us, and there is no recourse. No chance to say “I love you” or to retract a cruel word, no familiar arms to hold us, no warm and lovely voice in our ear.
But there is something to take away from this, and it isn’t despair. Jesus wept that day because he had lost a friend. He was exhausted, discouraged, and ultimately certain of his own impending death. But then He stood up and He shouted.
“Lazarus Come Forth!”
And Lazarus did. We know that he did.
Your loved one won’t. Not here, not now. But you can’t go forward thinking that this is the end. The entire purpose of Jesus’s life was to show us that there is no end. Whoever you’re missing, whatever darkness you are traveling in, know that this is transient, that time shuttles us forward, always so rapidly you don’t even know you’re moving. You won’t be in this bad spot forever.
Because there is another side, okay? There is.
Winter ends, the crocuses bloom and Lazarus heard the voice of his beloved friend calling him. Come forth. Come out into the sunshine and stand tall.
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