I’VE HAD MY share of disappointments through the years—fractured relationships, failed plans, and forgotten promises. Really big stuff and stuff that just seemed really big at the time. If I have learned one thing about how to deal with let-downs, it’s the importance of turning the right way.
I found the lesson at a funeral—suitably enough, given that disappointment is, in one way or another, a death of sorts. And it’s pretty simple: rather than turn away, you need to turn toward.
But that’s often not our natural response, is it? Given that God is all-powerful and all-loving, when things don’t go the way we hoped or wanted or prayed or believed they would or should, our natural response is to question His ways and His character. We can be tempted to turn away in hurt or in anger.
However, we might do well to follow Mary’s example, following the death of Lazarus, her brother and Jesus’s dear friend. In John 11 we read that when she learned Jesus was back in the area after Lazarus had died and been buried, she “rose quickly” and went out to Him.
She didn’t mince her words when she saw Him: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (verse 29). Did she speak with a touch of anger? Maybe, but there was likely also a tone of surrender; she had fallen at Jesus’s feet, after all (verse 32), acknowledging His Lordship.
She went to Him, and was honest about where she stood. It needn’t have gone this way, we might paraphrase, because You’re in control.
However, this acknowledgement was only the first step. Another painful one was to follow. She had to let Jesus into the source of the pain. When He asked where the body lay, she answered, “Lord, come and see” (verse 34). Instead of shutting Him out, to protect herself or to punish Him, she brought Him to the grave.
In the same way, we need to let God into the place where it hurts most. When we do, like Mary, we give Him room to do what only He can do. We may not get a loved one back, but in some way He can renew life where it has been lost.