I am thankful for a husband who loves me even when I’m breaking. Who knows when I’m crying on the bathroom floor, and instead of going on a run or telling me to get up, comes to sit down beside me and pulls me, shaking, into his lap. How did you know I was crying? He smiles softly. I’m your husband. I always know. And I’m not going anywhere.
God tells husbands to love their wives the way that he loves the church. Honestly, I think he knew that sometimes, we would have a hard time seeing him another way. Kellan is to incarnate God’s love towards me. And right now, Kellan is how I see him. Quietly. Softly. I’m your God. I always know. And I’m not going anywhere.
Sometimes, you can’t get off the bathroom floor. And what you need is not a God who tells you you’re fine and pulls you to your feet—what you need is a God who holds your hemorrhaging heart. A God who understands what it is to watch someone in your family struggle to breathe and die.You will scream if you hear “light and momentary” when your heart knows that in sixty years tears will still burn at the back of your eyes when Ian isn’t there on Christmas morning. That the soundtrack that has played in the background of your life will now forever be marred by curious dissonance of a key misplaced. No matter how happy I am, something will always be missing. Broken.
Tragedy is an interesting thing. Without warning, you join the massive ranks of bloodied, red-eyed, broken people. People suffocating under the weight of an impossible ache that feels like it will never, never go away as they struggle to get out of bed and answer phone and drive to the grocery store in a world that they no longer understand.
It makes me think about Mary.
Her brother died too, after all. I imagine the raw panic that welled up inside her as Lazarus lay white-faced, laboring to breathe, and she stood by helplessly. Maybe it was the first time she’d called his name, and he’d simply stared blankly through her. Maybe it was the wheezing as though he was drowning and everything in her felt like she was drowning with him. Maybe he could no longer move to motion for a glass of water or squeeze a hand. Her big, strong brother looked so frail laying there in that bed—nothing like the kid she’d grown up with. Mary did the one thing that she could do to help, and sent word to Jesus to come quickly—because she just KNEW that He could save her brother.
She waited for him to come-and every agonizing minute felt like a thousand. I imagine her sitting by Lazarus’ bed, holding his hand, fighting back the tears that threatened to consume her as she thought about how they’d played house together when they were little. Sure, he’d pretended to hate it-but secretly, he’d loved every second of hanging out with his sister. [Even when she made him be the dog.] She thought about the first time he’d fessed up to having a crush on the neighbor’s daughter. She’d pretended to be surprised when actually, she had known for months because that’s how sisters are. She thought about the walks they used to go on, conversations around the dinner table, and the incessant teasing that she’d always made a grand, indignant show over.
Mary waited for the only one who could heal her brother. She watched panic fill his deadened eyes as his dry mouth searched for air it could not find. The wheezing grew louder, and slipping in and out of consciousness he would sometimes moan, and sometimes a tear would roll down his cheek. As she wiped each one away, she would have done anything in the whole world to save her brother.
Mary held his hand the whole time. And with tears streaming down her face, she crumpled over her brother’s body as he shuddered one last painful time, and then silenced.
When Jesus arrived days later, she hadn’t slept. Her eyes were red and swollen, her head was pounding, and she walked towards him unsure whether legs could carry a heart that heavy. Her lower lip trembled as she quietly whispered, “If you’d been here, my brother would not have died.”
My question has been different. You see, Jesus was there as Ian died.
I find no answer as I ask God why he said no. Instead, I find a God that cries with me. That hates it even more than I do, and that longs for the world to be restored to what he created. I find a God that is redeeming all of the ugly, sad things in the world, and in the meantime sits with us on the bathroom floor.
If we claim to follow God, we must join Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and decide that He is good and worthy—PERIOD. That He is better than life itself. And while I would rather He’d taken mine than Ian’s, I with them cry that my love will not waver “even if He doesn’t save”. For the believer, this must be our defiant “nevertheless” in the face of broken, hellish ugly. This is not what you intended, it’s not what you created, and you’re redeeming the world from sin and death. You’re coming back, and you’re going to make all of the sad things become untrue. And until then, you ache with us.
I can offer nothing but a broken hallelujah.