Hoping against hope

EDITOR - Together with many around the world, we have been fasting and praying for the election and the results. Waking up each day since July 31 and checking the news and reading blogs and emails has been a heart-breaking thing.

Despairingly today I opened my Bible while asking God just what was going on, why those that have acted in upright ways and trusted in transparency and the rule of law, acting with integrity and expecting others to do the same have lost out. I read about the death of Lazarus. Martha went out to meet Jesus but Mary had to be called to go and see him.

It seems to me that she was angry with Jesus. She didn’t want to see him. And when she did come face to face with him she flung an allegation at him, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died!” “Why did you delay?” “Why did you not do what we asked you to do?”

John tells us that Mary was lying face down in the dirt at Jesus’ feet not in hope but in despair. All the horror of death, the nastiness of Lazarus’ final moments, the erosion of hope, the despair of separation, the absence of Jesus at a critical moment were, no doubt, swirling through her mind. It was a picture of utter desolation.

And Jesus wept. Over the years I have wondered why Jesus wept at this point. Was it tears of impotent rage at the situation? Tears of grief at the separation from his dead friend? Tears of distress at the thought of bringing Lazarus back from where he was? I don’t think it was any of those things.

Thinking about it today, I wonder if Jesus wept tears of sorrow at what had to be endured before the glory of God could be seen in that situation? We sometimes think that a happy ending justifies all the sorrow that precedes it. In one sense that might be true in terms of making the pain more palatable and giving meaning to the suffering. But so often the grief remains.

We sometimes feel that an unhappy ending makes all the sorrow that comes before it meaningless. It may not be true but that is how we are tempted to feel. What struck me today is something more in the story – although there is much that we may endure as we seek to bring glory to God, God sees what we endure and grieves for it before the ultimate outcome is known. He stands weeping as we lie broken in the dust, with our hopes and dreams shattered.

Jesus then walks to the tomb and orders the stone removed. Jesus is not simply moved but determined to do something about what has deeply troubled him, to challenge and take on an enemy of humanity. “Remove the stone!” he commands.

Jesus calls and the dead answer. Lazarus emerges. It is a spine-chilling moment as the power of sin and evil is broken. Like Mary I say ‘Lord if you had been here, this election would not have been lost’. Hope, life, the future, a fresh start lie behind the stone.

Like Mary, I lie in the dust, broken and despairing. How we longed for change, for a new start, for life to improve, for a sense of national unity, a pride and joy in being Zimbabwean. It feels like a death has taken place.

But I cling to the belief that God remains at work. So, fellow Zimbabweans, please don’t give up. God’s timing and perspective is very different from ours. How should the MDC respond? Not by returning evil with evil but returning good for evil, with integrity and the best interests of the people at heart, trusting God for the final result. – Hopeful Zimbabwean, by email

Post published in: Letters to the Editor

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