If I’m completely honest, I have to admit that the subconscious grieving process officially started on diagnosis day (February 13). But there were hints of its approach weeks before as we watched our previously perfect and healthy baby become a mere shell of who she had been. The Tori that we have now is completely different from the Tori we had until January 7th, and we have already grieved the loss of the original Tori for the most part. Of course, if the Lord takes her home, we will grieve again, but it has already started in some ways.
A few weeks ago a passage related to faith and grief came to mind – the account of Mary and Martha following the death of their beloved brother, Lazarus, in John 11: 1-44 (long, but worth it; emphasis mine):
A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick.
So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.
Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”
Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss.
When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” So Mary immediately went to him. Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”
But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”
So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (John 11:1-44 NLT)
This spoke to me for a few reasons:
- God will be glorified through Tori’s life whether He heals her here or not. He is working and we know that – we just hope His plan is to raise her from impending earthly death. What a worldwide impact that would have!
- Even if His plan isn’t to heal her here on earth, we know she will be with Jesus forever and we will see her again someday. Like Jesus said of Lazarus, ultimately her sickness will not end in death – eternal death, that is.
- Even in her grief, Mary and Martha demonstrated faith in God’s power. I had always read their statements as being accusatory – trying to make Jesus feel guilty for not being there; now, however, I think they were simply acknowledging their faith in who He was – God. Even as they mourned their dear brother, they still knew the truth about who Jesus was and they clung to it. They were mostly right in what they said- the difference is that Jesus could have healed Lazarus from anywhere, not just by being there.
And that is what gives us hope: absolute faith that God can heal her from anywhere. It doesn’t have to be through one specific person or any special prayer. If it is His will, He will do so, whether through the medical community in some cases, or through humanly unexplainable healing.
And so we continue to pray, continue to hope, continue to wait, praying that Tori’s situation will be much like that of Lazarus and that Jesus will heal her here on earth.