If you’ve lived long enough, and sometimes even if you haven’t, you’ve gotten those calls. The ones that kick you in the stomach and rearrange your priorities.
Even when you sort of expect them, you are never fully prepared for that moment.
Today we received word that Jeanny, one of Brynna’s nurses, passed away this morning after a valiant battle with brain cancer.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says these harrowing words,
“Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
Jeannie was a believer and knew Jesus. We know where she is and everything, for her, is just fine. But even in the face of knowing the truth of all that, here on earth the sting of death still feels fully intact, lodged deep in the recesses of the soul.
It even seemed to be true for Jesus.
In John 11 Jesus intentionally waited when he received word Lazarus was sick. Lazarus is referred to as “the one you love” by those bringing the news. We then learn that Jesus loved Lazarus as well as his sisters and yet he waited two days. In short, He waited long enough for Lazarus to die.
The ladies were praying that Lazarus would recover. They even went to Jesus, to the One they KNEW could help. And He waited. Why? Why didn’t He come at once and heal Lazarus before … before he died?
The answer is in verse 4: He says, “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Jesus then tells them in verse 11 and 14 that Lazarus has died, but He was on His way to wake him up … wait ... what? And He adds the bombshell, “I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe. But let’s go to him.”
At this point I can see people getting pretty tense with Jesus. In fact, Lazarus’ sister did just that when He arrived. Mary stayed behind, but Martha … Martha met Jesus and declared,
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Then Mary. In verse 32, she takes a turn getting testy with the Creator of the Universe. She says,
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”
Here’s the kicker: She’s right. Sort of. How many times have we prayed and asked for healing that never came? I think we all can identify with how she was feeling.
What we do know from at least three occasions is that Jesus healed people “at the point of death” from a distance without ever actually being there. We also see Him healing and raising from the dead when present, so Mary was right, sort of. Even Jesus’ words earlier indicate had He been there, surely He would have healed Lazarus before his death.
Then, the strangest thing of all in this story, even stranger than Jesus waiting and letting him die. When Jesus saw them all crying and mourning, He asked to see where they had laid him. Then Jesus wept.
Wait, what? Why did He weep?
First of all, He knew two days ago what was going to happen. In that present moment, He knew what He was about to do, and yet He wept. Why?
I believe Jesus reveals to us in John 11 a fundamental truth. Without the sharp and present sting of death, there is no understanding of the deep hope we have in the resurrection.
Remember what Jesus told His disciples? “I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe. “
The weight of mortality is never so heavy than when traversing the valley of the shadow of death. Neither is the light of hope of resurrection ever so bright.
Jesus wanted the disciples to believe … in Him and in who He was, not just in His power to heal sickness. He wanted to demonstrate His power over death itself, to bring glory to the Father … so he let Lazarus go … for a time.
While they only experienced death for a few short days, the sting of death felt very permanent. Like things are over, but they aren’t.
The same promise Jesus had for Lazarus is still true for us … this isn’t permanent. A resurrection is coming. Maybe not today, or in four days, or in four years, or in four decades, or even centuries. But rest assured, it IS coming and it brings us untold amounts of joy, hope, and peace.
I like the story when Mary, Peter, and John came to the tomb after Jesus was raised. They looked into the empty cavern and the scriptures say then, “they believed.”
As we say goodbye for now to a dear and precious friend this Friday, our hearts are heavy, but, as before, we take comfort in knowing this darkness isn’t permanent. As with Lazarus, as with Jesus, and with every other believer who has gone home to be with the Lord, there is HOPE. The truth of resurrection causes us to BELIEVE!
There is HOPE that one day we will be reunited once again with those we love, the sting of death will finally be put to rest once and for all. The victory will finally be ours, the tears dried, mourning turned to joy.
Jeanny was more than a nurse to Brynna, she was family. I don’t have words to express what she meant to us and to her. The true test of one’s life is the legacy they leave behind. Jeanny left a legacy of love and compassion for the “least of these.” She was a third grandmother to our sweet baby girl and my dear friend.
We will always remember, and greatly miss, our Neanie.