“Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
This question leapt out to me in my time of reading this morning. A question of why couldn’t Jesus heal Lazarus? We just saw him heal the man born blind in John 9. Why didn’t Jesus do a long-distance prayer to Bethany and heal Lazarus before he died?
But that’s not what happened. Lazarus does die. People don’t understand.
The question of “could not he who . . .” struck me this morning because my guess is some folks might be saying “could not God who resurrected Jesus from the grave stop this COVID-19 pandemic?”
The short answer is yes. The longer answer . . . for me is much more complicated and yet very simple.
My thought (and this is my thought. If you disagree with my thought, that’s your thought):
The longer answer for me:
God sometimes does that instantaneous healing miracle. One word and the healing happens. Evidence in scripture – evidence throughout history.
My experience is that God calls us to “participate in our healing”. We take the medicine. We practice good health habits. We practice social-distancing or maybe a better word “physical-distancing”. * We wash our hands. We think of others when we are shopping for bread or sugar or gracious, toilet paper!
None of us have been through what we are going through right now. I’ve said several times this week that I feel like I’m going to wake up and it’s going to have been a dream.
But we are awake.
We are living through a time like never before. I would not be telling you the truth if I didn’t say it makes me uneasy – to say the least. Every time I see the news or an alert comes across my phone or my watch, I feel that uneasiness. Every time I watch the stock market descend or the emails come to say my favorite stores are closing temporarily, I feel that uneasiness. Then I remember that there are people – my friends, my family, my favorite server – who are touched by the latest alert.
It became very real in one simple action this week when my husband shaved off his beard that had been there for a LONG time so that he would have a good seal on his mask when he worked at the drive-through respiratory clinic (for people with concerning symptoms). That’s real, folks.
Yes, I believe that Jesus can and does heal AND I believe that He calls us to be part of the healing for ourselves and for others.
So, what do we do?
- We remember what we already know. The God who journeyed with his people in the desert for 40 years is the same God who journeys with us now.
- We hold on to the faith that sustains us in the midst of all of life.
- We hold on to the love that says, “nothing will separate us from the love of Christ Jesus.”
- We pray – for all, particularly for every medical profession you know and those you don’t know. They are doing the very best that they can in the midst of an ever-changing landscape of health information.
- We hold on to each other. Be comfort to one another. Be the person who calls someone else to say I’m praying for you.
- And my clergy friends, know that you are not alone as you figure out what to do. Support one another and know that I am praying for you.
- And congregations, pray for your pastor. She or he is taking care of you AND they have family and friends who need them.
So back to the initial question of “could not he who . . .?
If you read on in John 11, Jesus does heal Lazarus. He is resurrected.
Jesus says, “take away the stone” and people move the stone
(even though Martha reminds Jesus how much this will smell).
Jesus asks the question, “did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
Jesus commands “Lazarus, come out!”
Jesus tells others “unbind him and let him go.”
This healing involved Jesus, Lazarus and the others. Jesus commanded, Lazarus obeyed, and others participated.
May it be so for all of us.
*”Don’t call it ‘social distancing’ – opinion article by Menjivar, Foster and Brand. CNN, 3/21/20.