By Our Side

When Mary arrived where Jesus was, she fell down at his feet, saying, "Sir, if you had been here, my brother would still be alive." When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jewish leaders wailing with her, he was moved with indignation and deeply troubled. "Where is he buried?" he asked them. They told him, "Come and see." Tears came to Jesus' eyes.

"They were close friends," the Jewish leaders said. "See how much he loved him."

But some said, "This fellow healed a blind man - why couldn't he keep Lazarus from dying?"

And again Jesus was moved with deep anger. Then they came to the tomb. It was a cave with a heavy stone rolled across its door. "Roll the stone aside," Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man's sister, said, "By now the smell will be terrible, for he has been dead four days."

"But didn't I tell you that you will see a wonderful miracle from God if you believe?" Jesus asked her.

So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, thank you for hearing me. (You always hear me, of course, but I said it because of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.)" Then he shouted, "Lazarus, come out!"

And Lazarus came - bound up in the gravecloth, his face muffled in a head swath. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!" John 11:32-44 (TLB)

J. Leland Collins Jr. comes from Virginia. When he wrote this devotional, it had been 34 years, on a Father's Day, that his mother and him stood at his father's hospital bedside to say their final goodbyes. Even after all those years, he still misses his father. Although he was feeling his own personal pain, it was his privilege as an only child to stand by his mother's side in her deep grief over losing her husband of 43 years. As much as J. Leland wanted to, he couldn't take away her sadness; it was something that she had to work through in her own way.

At times like these, nothing we say can make all the pain go away. Sometimes just being present - as hard as that might be - is enough. J. Leland learned this over 25 years that he spent as a critical-care chaplain serving grieving families by offering his presence, his comfort, and his prayers. But the sense of God's presence with us really makes all the difference. Today's quoted verse opens us to the sacred heart of our Lord. God is touched by the pain we feel and is present to comfort us. Jesus' presence made all the difference for Mary and Martha. Still today, when we stand with one another in grief, it can make all the difference for us as well. The difference is; do we open our hearts to his presence or do we shut him out in bitterness and anger?

Prayer: Living God, give us the courage and love to be present with those who are grieving and to be channels of your comfort to those who are hurting, in Jesus' name, amen.

We all still miss and love this wonderful lady - Lucille Gomez, as well as many others.

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