You may not remember that the final straw leading to Jesus’ arrest and criminal accusations was when he raised his friend, Lazarus from death. Quite the triumph over death! Resurrection and life win the day. But do you remember that the passage begins with Jesus delaying his trip to see Mary and Martha by two days. Do you remember how they greeted him?
“Lord, if you had only been here, my brother would not have died.”
And how many times do you cry the same thing? “God if you had been here (if you had cared, had listened), my spouse (baby, mother, father, friend, cousin etc.) would not have died. Behind this lament is the question, where is God when we suffer?
Lutheran tradition would answer that God is found where we least expect, in the brokenness, grief, loneliness and tragedy of life. God is with us. Maybe not intervening with events already in motion, but there to offer comfort, strength and mercy. Remember that God the Father watched and listened as God the son cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God knows our grief.
As we come to the table of the Eucharist we receive the gifts that God promises, in spite of, and in the midst of our pain: strength, forgiveness and salvation. These gifts are free! That is grace.