buried in the pain
we hold inside
healing from the tears
I find in His eyes
“Jesus wept” (John 11:35)
I can see Mary Magdalene looking into the eyes of the one she loved. And Him looking back at her.
Grief welling up to heal from the outpouring. He knew the feeling of what it meant for Him to show up 2 days late as the one called beloved laid before his feet. Her tears rawly exposed and her pain unhidden. I thought You loved me, I can hear her say… why didn’t You come… as the One who carries the blueprint for galaxies remained far from her when she needed Him.
Have you ever been there?
Have you ever felt the pain of God not showing up?
Maybe you have experienced a time when God didn’t answer. You love Him and trust Him but the question still lingers… why didn’t He?
We are going to see in this passage how Mary wrestles through this with Jesus. And ultimately, resolidifies her love with Him even stronger than before.
But it comes through the rawness of this vulnerable encounter with Jesus.
Mary came to Jesus with her raw hurts and confusion over His absence. It wasn’t a lack of love that caused her pain with the Lord… it was the deep-rooted presence of her affection for Him.
As love deepens it can yield a higher risk for hurt, but it creates a deeper capacity for intimacy. We find that our love with God increases as we bring our raw anguish to Him, letting Him love us to a higher threshhold of love than before.
We see this play out in this story between Jesus and Mary in John chapters 11 & 12.
They’ve sent for Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus.
1 day passes.
I can see Mary in the house looking out the window. Wondering where Jesus is. She’s written letters and sent messages but still no silhouette of the Messiah on the horizon.
2 days pass.
Then Martha sees someone in the distance. She goes outside to meet him meandering through the grassy meadow outside the curtained windows. But behind the glass and far from the entrance, Mary sits inside. She doesn’t go with Martha to meet Jesus… how interesting that the one who loved Jesus the most decided to stay inside when He came.
“So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.”
I’ve studied this passage many times but this time, what Mary does stuck out to me in a way it never has.
Mary stays inside instead of going outside to see Jesus.
She doesn’t want to go see Him.
I can just see Martha at the door persuading Mary to join her as Jesus arrives at the gate. Mary draped in tears and confusion, sitting inside with a look of disappointment on her face… “No Martha, I don’t want to see Him right now. I’ll stay right here… He doesn’t love me like I thought He did…”
She loves Jesus so much that for Him not to show up for her makes her feel unloved and neglected.
The one would go on to pour out her alabaster jar on Jesus’ feet has a moment of grief in her relationship with Jesus. And I think this can be so encouraging for us to see that love doesn’t absolve us from pain and grief with the one we love. We only experience pain because we love.
She hurt deeply on the inside because she loved deeply.
With time, these pains of new love and connection calm as she comes to know Jesus in a closer way.
Love hurts sometimes… doesn’t it?
I think all of us can relate to a time where someone we loved hurt us or we have hurt someone we love, just because of the closeness and vulnerability that opens us to… and the longing love creates… you get your hopes up … you want the other person to be there for you… you have a certain expectation of the other and they of you… and it takes time and getting to know the other to understand how they operate, so that both people can stabilize that connection and know they are loved no matter what they perceive from the other. Then that love becomes strong and unwavering… the angst starts to turn into confidence in feeling loved no matter what. We see this play out with Mary and Jesus as we go into chapter 12.
But right now, Mary feels Jesus’ absence.
And it’s painful for her.
Because to her, all she knows is that Jesus didn’t come when she asked. She doesn’t know He is going to come 2 days later. She doesn’t know He is going to die on the cross and ascend to Heaven and come back to for all His people one day. All she knows is that this man whom she loves is rejecting her.
Most of the time rejection is not full rejection, it’s perceived rejection. With time we come to see we weren’t rejected at all, and Mary will see this as well.
Sometimes for me the most disorienting moments I have in my life with Jesus is to feel so strongly that He loves me and I love Him, but that there are some particular things He leaves untouched. How can you love me so much and You’re not showing up in this for so long? I start to ask Him… And before you know it that moment spins out of control and I’m like Mary sitting in the house, feeling hurt because Jesus didn’t answer how I expected. I have to bring that to Him and talk with Him about it. Letting Him speak love over me. Clinging to what He says to Me, letting the relationship we have remain rooted in His affections.
Feed trust and it will grow. Feed despair and it will grow too. I’m learning to choose the better thing to grow even though I don’t always get it right, but I want to.
When I choose to say Jesus I want you to love me despite this, that’s when I can shake out of that mind game of despair and be encouraged again knowing He loves me.
Maybe you can relate to something you are praying for and haven’t seen comes to pass.
I want you to be encouraged because we see that with Jesus there’s more to the story…
The story progresses in John chapter 11.
And Jesus is coming…
So Martha goes outside to greet Jesus as He arrives from His journey.
At this point, Mary is still in the house and she knows Jesus is outside. I can see tears flowing from her eyes as she can’t make sense of why Jesus would have intentionally stayed where he was instead of coming to her when she needed Him.
All the sudden… Martha comes inside to find Mary.
Martha says, “Mary! The teacher is here and is calling for you.”
This is where everything shifts.
Mary is shocked.
She stands up immediately.
Really? He’s calling for me? You mean He came and He wants to see me? Mary goes from mourning in the house to jumping up to go outside.
The Bible says, “And when Mary heard it, she rose quickly and went to Him.”
Before she was unwilling to go outside because she thought Jesus didn’t care about her.
But she wanted to see Him all along.
She just needed to know He loved her too.
For Jesus to come and see her… to beckon her…
We all need that. To know we are loved. To know we are wanted. We need this from God more than anything but we also need this from each other because we are relational beings… God tells us to love Him and to also love one another because it’s an essential nutrient for our hearts.
So she bolts outside.
Running through the wind… no more thoughts keeping her held back… no more defense mechanisms… stubborness melting… love is reviving her.
“Lord!” she exclaims…
She falls at his feet with emotion and grief… her love for Him pouring out in the pain.
“Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died…” (verse 32)
I love her raw heart…
Even though she wants Him to love her she’s not afraid to tell Jesus exactly how she feels.
That Him not coming hurts her.
Jesus… I love You but You hurt me… Why didn’t You come sooner…
If we’re honest, we’ve all had these moments with the Lord where we ask Him why didn’t you show up in this.
Mary loves Jesus.
And love hurts sometimes.
But we’re about to see that love also heals.
Sometimes the ones we love the most possess the greatest potential to hurt us, but they also carry the greatest capacity to heal us. I think it’s important to clarify that God doesn’t hurt us. He only loves. He only imparts good things. But Mary still feels hurt by Jesus because of what she doesn’t understand right now and soon she will understand more. I can relate to that. His ways are different and thus it can cause pain for us in how we as broken humans interpret that and wrestle through what He allows.
Even still, His love is the greatest healing agent.
Because deep, spirit-filled love heals. And we as God’s people carry His love and it emenates from us to the ones we love in our lives in a way that touches deep things in the heart. Receiving this love from the Lord is how we can carry this kind of love so that it replaces the natural human efforts of love.
Jesus is about to love her in a deep way she’s never experienced before.
Jesus does something in reaction to Mary’s pain.
Jesus cries… (verse 35)
He weeps right there with her laying on the ground telling Him how his delay caused them pain.
Jesus sees how much His decision to wait 2 extra days has hurt Mary. Sure He did nothing wrong and has a greater plan in mind but I love the gentleness of the Lord to care for us when His ways cause us pain and angst from the waiting. He gets it. He hurts too.
This is the only time in the Bible where we hear of Jesus shedding the beauty of tears for a person.
God cares about the pain this world has caused you.
He cries for us when we’re hurting, and He longs to love us at the deepest level because He sees into the depths nobody else sees. I feel better knowing Jesus cares. He’s not harsh with her.
Jesus doesn’t get angry with Mary for her telling him plainly He’s hurt her. He humbly welcomes her honesty and opens up His own heart to feel the pain of this situation too. And He hurts to see her hurting.
All the sudden Mary sees something in the watering of Jesus’ eyes… He really does love her.
He did all along.
He just had a different idea in mind than she couldn’t conceive, but He’s here now. He’s here now.
His tears for her become a profound act of love that she’ll never forget. It solidifies this love so that she doesn’t question it again in the scriptures as far as we know.
This cultivates intimacy between Mary and Jesus on the spot.
This is the antidote.
Knowing we are loved completely.
Mary only stayed inside because she thought Jesus didn’t love her, but now she knows He does it provokes this radical passion within her that we will see expressed boldly in chapter 12.
So often the pain we feel in life in whatever situation is the result of feeling unloved. We need love so deeply. I need Him to tell me He loves me over and over. I think we all could relate to that. We need God to tell us He loves us incessantly… it eases us. And thankfully for us, He endlessly is there to love us like a deep well of water to drink over and over.
God loves us over and over… even if we question it over and over… He tells us again over and over… and we are eased.
We see Mary now eased by Jesus’ love.
Following this encounter with Jesus, we immediately see Mary again in the house but with a different posture. (John 12) Mary goes from feeling hurt and sitting alone away from Jesus to overcome with passionate love sitting next to Jesus with a treasure to give Him. She does a complete 180.
From pouring out tears and torment of disappointment on Jesus to pouring out tears and treasures of love on Jesus…
Because she knew He loved her.
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Knowing you are loved completely and permamently is incredibly stabalizing.
It’s so stablazing that Mary throws away her financial stability as if it’s nothing. She found a deeper stability in the love she feels from Jesus. And it’s refashioned her instincts. Now her instinct is to go to Jesus lavishly, even without permission, to dote upon Him and love Him with everything she can think of to give Him.
She can’t help it.
Love is that powerful.
When we love one another in a way that lets the other know they are loved completely forever no matter what goes right or wrong, it stabalizes the other person in that relationship. Both feel the ease of knowing they are accepted and it creates ease for each to be themselves. Because they’ve already experienced a shattering and delved deeper into the complexities of pain and honesty, planting them deep in the safe space of openness and love.
We all want to be known, yet we fear if we will still be loved for who we are. But to be laid bare and still accepted feels incredibly healing.
Relationships flourish when each person feels completely known and also completely loved for all they are.
Jesus sees through us for all we are yet loves us for all we are.
We feel most loved when we are fully known by others and they still love us. This comes from God and is the essence of love. Difficult situations grant us the opportunities to show love in this way.
It’s often in our deepest vulnerabilites and pains that intimacy deepens in correlation.
This story of healing Lazarus was about more than the miracle… it was about showing up in the pain, weeping with Mary one-on-one, saying Mary, I’m here My love… I love you… I always loved you…
Mary goes to the next level of love with Jesus because of it.
And she sees that Jesus is not heartless.
She feels the magnitude of Jesus saying I’m here now… and so did Jesus… as He looked into her puddled eyes flooded from disappointment. His tearing in tandem.
Relationships deepen when we encounter difficult situations. He was planning to come to her but it was for the glory of God that it unfolded this way. And they see that when they both encounter obstacles, they truly connect and desire to love the other back into wholeness. It’s a healthy moment for them.
Everything is better when Jesus comes.
We connect to God in a deeper relationship when we open up to Him about the real, raw hurts in our hearts in things we can’t make sense of. And He comes close to love us in that moment. And I believe we will see more to come just like Mary and all of Bethany saw that day.
Intimacy is cultivated in the unveiling and healing of hurts we bear from loving deeply.
I hear God saying to you… I’m here now, My love… I’m sorry My ways Have caused you pain… I never wanted you to feel pain… the perfection of My ways gets misconstrued in the atmosphere of a broken world… I always loved you… there are beautiful things awaiting you… I’m here now… I’m here…
Let His love embrace you in the pains and questions you have. He wants to be there with us in the midst of it. When you’re hurting He hurts too… and intimacy increases as we get raw with Jesus, letting Him into these deep places of our hearts. ❤️
We will see Jesus’ love for us in the reflection of His tears… cascading droplets of compassion wrapped in affection… how He hurts along with you when you’re hurting…
let His tears seep into your heart
they’re tears of love and love will heal us
Love will heal us
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
Questions for Today:
- What hurts do I feel towards God and how can I let Him love me in that pain?
- Why does Jesus weep for Mary?
- How do painful situations increase intimacy in the presence of love?
- How does being wholly loved for who we are stabalize our hearts?
- How can I remind myself God loves me and that He has greater things awaiting?