[guestpost]NOTE: For timely news on Michele’s surgery, treatment and healing journey, you can find regular updates on her Facebook page. [/guestpost]
I didn’t expect a Red Sea Moment that morning.
As per my new routine, I was up at 5:45 a.m, to take a shower, get dressed, dry my hair (something that’s less and less necessary every day. Boo.). Ready for the day, I headed downstairs and parked myself in my favorite reading chair. Thirty minutes, then I needed to leave. For radiation.
Several weeks ago, before “normal-crazy” turned into “crazy-on-crack,” I decided I needed something to read or focus on during these long weeks of treatment. Ideally, I hoped to find a book of the Bible with exactly twenty-eight chapters, one for each of my twenty-eight days of radiation and chemo.
The Gospel of John.
That was my first thought. Except John came up short. Only twenty-one chapters. On a whim, I flipped ahead to John’s other writings: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. Seven chapters total.
I’d found my twenty-eight.
That day—Treatment Day #11—I read John 11.
The story of Lazarus. And Jesus raising him from the dead.
Ironic, yes? If it wasn’t for all those still-sleeping little people, I would’ve laughed out loud.
I love this story. Who wouldn’t? It has a good ending, and I’m ALL about good endings. But last Tuesday, I found myself intrigued by Jesus’ emotions. For example, he “loved” Mary, Martha and Lazarus. And yet when he heard Lazarus was deathly ill, “He waited.” Then, when he finally arrived at their home much too late, he was “deeply troubled.” Ultimately, “He wept.”
Whoa. Not something to rush past. Jesus. Wept.
I used to think Jesus cried because Lazarus had died. They’d been friends, they loved each other. It only makes sense to shed a few tears.
And yet, Jesus knew long before he arrived that Lazarus’ “sickness will not end in death” (vs. 4). He knew a grand finale would trump the grief.
He knew. Still he cried. Deep, soul-ripping sobs.
Why? Why did God-With-Us weep? I can’t presume to know the mind of God, but I believe he wept over the wide swath of suffering on that hillside. The sound of keening mourners. The inconsolable sisters. And, perhaps, Jesus wept over this vast world filled to the gills with those who weep and keen without relief.
People like you and like me.
That’s when I started to cry.
Do you see my suffering, God? Do you see how I ache for all this to go away? Do you hear my cries, feel my pain? DO YOU WEEP FOR ME? I need to know!
This was my prayer on the morning of Radiation Treatment #11. More a “demand” than an “ask.” And filled with big, necessary questions.
Questions you may have asked, may be asking.
For a minute or two, I waited in my chair. Waited for the sky to split and heaven to deliver my answer.
A girl can hope.
Closing John 11, I left the chair behind and dove into my day. I couldn’t be late for radiation.
By the time I parked at the Cancer Center, a text message was waiting from my friend Kathi Lipp:
God and I had a long chat about you this morning. He wants you to know He’s got this. You don’t need to stress or worry this morning. Today, he’s got you.
Not exactly a memo from heaven, but close. I smiled. Then I walked into Treatment Day #11 with a little more hope.
Little did I know the greater miracle was yet to come.
When I sat down in the waiting room, I again pulled out my phone. It’d been a couple days since I last checked this blog. I needed to see if any new comments had come in.
A good thing I did. There was one. THIS ONE:
I am working in customer service emails & just received an automated email reply from your server with reference to this blog. I decided to check it out.
What you couldn’t have known is that I had just been in the ladies room at work, crying out to Jesus, asking Him why He has allowed what feels like such unending suffering in my life this past year.
And I believe that being the customer service agent that received your automated email & was led by His Holy Spirit to this blog was our Heavenly Father’s answer to my restless heart.
Two months ago I set up an automated reply to my email inbox, knowing it would be impossible to keep up over the following months. I hoped this would help concerned friends and colleagues to know they mattered, even if I couldn’t reply.
What I DIDN’T consider is that I occasionally use one of these email addresses for other purposes. The day before Treatment Day #11, I’d ordered flowers for my mama from a national company. As a result, the company sent an automated receipt to my inbox. My server then sent the automated reply back, which typically goes to a no-reply address and is forever lost in the black hole of internet nothingness.
Not this time. This time, my automated email landed in the inbox of a customer service rep named Nina. A girl who—only moments before—had wept and asked God if he sees her suffering.
Sweet mercy from heaven. Okay, God. I hear you. And? Thanks.
Does God see our suffering? Yes. A thousand times, YES. And perhaps one of the most beautiful ways He reveals his nearness is when He moves heaven and earth to link our tears with those of another.
If you’re in place of suffering, please know this: God sees, even when it doesn’t feel like it. He is “deeply troubled” by your pain. He counts and carries your tears.
And yes, He weeps.