A chapter closed.
Another year gone by.
Even the best of and year in review lists are wrapping up.
We lived a shared year around the sun and oh how we experienced the year differently.
I know some who had an amazing 2017. Others who feel it was another blurry year without highs or lows but just steady. And others who are coming out of 2017 knocked down to the ground wondering how they will ever breathe again.
I’ve been wondering and reading and meditating lately on the idea of the “all hope is lost” days in Scripture.
You know what I’m talking about.
The four days Lazarus was in the grave.
The three days Jesus’ body laid in the tomb.
The agonizing time between when Joseph planned to divorce Mary and the angel gave him peace.
The days and nights Sarah longed for a child and watched her hope slip farther and farther away.
Not to mention the four hundred years of silence between the Old Testament and the New.
In my mind, they’re called the dead days. The days where the world appears to have all the power. Illness overcame, sin won, understandable confusion and mistrust, a biological clock ticking away. These natural things — things we encounter in our world every single day — they run their course and they produce their outcome and as far as our eyes can see, the outcome is final.
So when 2017 wrapped up, I was finally able to put language to the cry of my heart. I feel like Lazarus in the tomb, Jesus in the grave, an unwed teenager out of options, a woman who desired a child but her body refused to produce one. I didn’t feel like I was wandering in the desert, I felt like I was out of options. Like death had come and declared its final sentence and the prisoner was my hopes and dreams and desires.
I wonder if Lazarus felt betrayed by Jesus as he felt life slip from his body moment by moment. We know Mary and Martha did…. “Lord if you were just here…” if you had just been here. If you had just shown up. We believe you are the God of miracles but where were you?? In my mind’s eye, they are throwing these words at their friend who failed them. Their grief and sorrow and confusion pouring from their bodies like a long dammed river.
But what about Lazarus? Was he assuring his sisters Jesus would come even until the end? Was he trying to comfort them knowing he was about to take his last breath? Was he certain there would be Life waiting for him regardless of the outcome? Because those four days between life and life must have been excruciating.
Yet Jesus still shows up. To reveal his power not only to prevent death but overcome it. To call the dead to life.
The full glory displayed.
And if I’m honest, I feel like I’m living somewhere between being Lazarus in the grave and Mary weeping at the feet of Jesus crying out, if only you had been here.
I’m not sure where you’re at on the dawn of this new year. Maybe you’re coming from a strong beautiful year full of the best. Maybe you’re awakening to a reality you never wanted to live. And maybe you’re somewhere in between those extremes. Wherever you’re at, my hope and prayer for you is that you find the kindness of Jesus at every step.
So this year, I don’t have any big grand statements of this finally being my year. I don’t have any expectations of the best being yet to come. There’s no new year new me. All I have is a flicker of faith in the God who calls dead things to life. And that feels like enough.
Come alive, dead heart. Come out from the grave. Come alive.
ps. check out this amazing teaching on this topic.