Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Stacy Averette

I remember that time my mother was dying and some people were being selfish and petty and I slipped outside unnoticed to the back porch to cry. A few minutes passed and Daddy found me. “What’s the matter with you?” I felt like a snotty second-grader hurt by a playground bully retelling my story and trying to put words to my pain.

“You gotta be tougher ‘n that,” he said.

Now I can see the lump in his throat and how he was trying to manage his own pain and keep it locked away and how at that moment he couldn’t make room for mine. He was troubled but couldn’t cry with me or for himself, yet. He was a human being human.

And I remember that time that Lazarus was dying and Martha was crying and she put words to her pain. She told Jesus (who had acted very Jesus-like and decided to make a stop or visit another friend or grab a bite to eat or whatever He does when you need a miracle pain reliever and He delays), she said to her friend, Jesus, who already knew that her brother was 4 days dead, “If only you’d been here, sooner.”

I’ve had a few of my own “If only” conversations with Jesus.

His almighty decisions have caused me a lot of pain. There might be a better, more spiritual, way to describe His actions but right now I don’t care much about a better more spiritual way to say it.

I’m not going to pretend to understand or explain why God has allowed some of the things he’s allowed. I know He can heal, rescue, protect, and redirect and do a whole bunch of other God-like stuff but sometimes He just doesn’t do what I think He should do. Of course, He wouldn’t be much of a God if he could be bossed around and manipulated by the likes of me.

Lazarus was dead and Mary repeated what Martha had said. “If only . . .”

The sisters wept.

Their Jewish friends wept.

The Word says Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

And He wept.

I wrote these words, all the ones you just read, in my journal three days ago. I didn’t plan to write this out loud for you to read because I didn’t want you to think less of Daddy or less of me. The story, as it were, seemed nothing more than a whiney-word-vomit without any helpful takeaway. I knew there was a lesson coming but my friend Jesus has a way of delaying that’s often quite frustrating and also miraculously redemptive. So I wrote down what I knew for sure and moved on.

But you must know that I’ve repeated the story, that brief moment on Mamma and Daddy’s back porch, dozens of times out loud to my saint of a husband who has the gift of listening.

I’ve been nine years pregnant with pain, trying to make sense of “you gotta be tougher ‘n that” and attempting to reconcile my tears and my pain and Daddy’s.

It’s Friday morning at 2:40 a.m. and my bladder wakes me up for the second time tonight. I do my business and slip back into bed with a restlessness I can’t shake. It has become my habit to repeat the Jesus prayer when I’m anxious and can’t sleep. “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” There’s comfort in that.

With eyes wide open in the dark I suddenly realize that on this very day, December 3, 2012, Mother died.

(I don’t usually publicly acknowledge the death anniversary of a loved one and to be honest, sometimes I don’t even think about it until the day has passed. But God was up to something and he had been orchestrating this moment for a long time. He knew it was time to push.)

I thought about how Mother had bravely battled cancer for nine long years.

And then I thought about what I’d written in my journal three days ago and how I’d carried this unreconciled pain for nine long years.

And suddenly these words wash over me: Jesus wept! Martha wept. Mary wept. And Jesus wept.

He was the God-Man being God-Man.

My story has a takeaway! I’ve finally given birth and I’m holding the gift that makes all the pain worthwhile.

Nine years ago, I really needed Daddy to see my pain, my tears, and remember that as he was losing his wife, I was losing someone, too. I needed him to weep with me. But I get it now. The pain is reconciled. Jesus has restored the years that the locust has eaten. (Joel 2:25)

I am Mary and Martha, losing, grieving, weeping with all my “If only-s” and Jesus is weeping with me. He wept with me nine years ago and a thousand times since when I’ve questioned His delays and doubted His goodness.

He wept for Daddy, too.

And He’s weeping with you, friend. Whatever you’re going through, quietly weeping through, He’s there, weeping, too.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.