I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. – Psalm 27:13 (NIV)
Several years ago my husband and I were sitting in church during Holy Saturday when a line in the “call and response” stood out to me:
“I believe I will see good things of the Lord in the land of the living.”
When I ask myself how I have seen good things of the Lord, I realize that I have not always defined “good” in the same way as God. More often than not I have defined “…good things of the Lord…” as easy and beneficial to me and my well-being; but, when I take time to sit with Gospel stories I am shown a very different kind of “good.”
Growing up, the Sunday School version of Lazarus was light and easy. At best we got to wrap our teachers in toilet paper and laugh when it was time for them to bust out of their trappings. The characters were laid out on a lovely felt board and the story was simple.
When I read the story of Lazarus today I am aware that loved ones were hoping that Lazarus wouldn’t die. I am aware that loved ones had to prepare his body and his tomb and wonder why Jesus hadn’t shown up. From illness to death, Lazarus’ story is just like every other mortal on the planet. He died and his family and friends were left to mourn him.
I have heard a lot of sermons about how Lazarus’ death and resurrection glorifies, but, I find that the glory (and good) in this story for me is that God invited a whole lot of people to be a part of the story; the painful and the joyous.
I have seen good things of the Lord in the land of the living and it never looks like what I think it will look like.
The “good things” now look to me like communities sharing hurts and hopes. It looks like Lazarus all bound up and shambling out of a tomb. It looks like Jesus telling everyone around Lazarus to unbind him, and it looks like family and friends rushing to a “once-was-dead man” to free him.
During Lent, let us look for good things from the Lord, even if it means that they intersect with grief. Let’s consider our own invitation to be a part of the good and miraculous.