If only I hadn’t missed that one little step on the deck, fallen and broken my wrist fourteen months ago. If only that tumble didn’t cause a nerve injury, greatly impeding my recovery and still needing prescription pain relief. If only all the trauma didn’t bring on tachycardia, requiring a complete cardiac workup and lifestyle changes. If only a screw didn’t come loose a year later, necessitating removal of the hardware. If only being intubated for the surgery didn’t cause painful TMJ. If only I didn’t have to start all over again with occupational therapy.
All these health struggles caused by one little missed step.
How about you? Any “if onlys” in your life or your loved one’s?
If only this diagnosis had not come right now. If only that distracted driver hadn’t rear ended us. If only my partner hadn’t been unfaithful. If only I didn’t lose my job. If only my loved one was still here with me. If only…you fill in the blanks.
In the Gospel of John we read about sisters Mary and Martha who sent a message to Jesus concerning their brother Lazarus: “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” Jesus got the message and then promptly stayed put for two more days. By the time he arrived at Lazarus’ home, his friend had been in the grave four days.
Martha ran outside the village to meet Jesus and told him: “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21, italics mine)
Shortly, Mary arrived with the same heartbroken words: “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32, italics mine)
Jesus followed the two women to Lazarus’ grave and scripture tells us He was both angry and weeping. He knew His Heavenly Father was going to raise His friend back to life in a few moments, but that didn’t prevent Jesus from being mad and from crying.
Friends, I believe Jesus cares deeply about our “if onlys.” I believe He is angry when our frail bodies break down with sickness and injury. He’s angry when other people’s missteps cause us pain and suffering. He’s angry when partners are unfaithful. He’s angry when unfairness happens to us. He’s angry when death temporarily steals a loved one from us.
If you are wondering what Jesus thinks about your “if onlys”…He’s weeping with you.
He’s shedding tears because we have to experience trials in this life and He longs for us all to be in Heaven where the Book of Revelation tells us “there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Right before Jesus prayed for Lazarus’ resurrection, He told all the weeping mourners: “Didn’t I tell you that you would see the glory of God if you believe?” (He didn’t add the word “only” but His message is the same.)
I can’t tell you exactly how God is going to respond to your painful “if only,” but I know He loves you and if only you believe–trust in Him–you will see His glory some how, some way, some time. He may bring physical healing or emotional soothing or relationship restoration or supernatural comfort. As the song below reminds us: “When your pain runs deep, His love runs deeper still.”
Open in your browser to hear the music video “Somewhere in Your Silent Night” by Casting Crowns