The Death of a Dream

11:47 PM

"Your application for a spousal visa has been denied."

The words seemed to fly off the page and swirl around me as a knot formed in my stomach. Denied? But God had been so clear! Why would He let this happen? How could He?

Dialing the phone frantically, I tried to reach my husband. "Nathan, it's been denied!" 

I shouted over a faulty connection. "Arrived?" He shouted back. 

"NO. It's been DENIED! It's been denied," I said once more quietly. 

We both fell into silence. It was unthinkable. Our worst fears had come true. We'd done everything in our power to see this through, only to have it explode in our faces. 

We retraced the entire saga. The MP's we'd involved in our case, the countless emails trying to check on our case, the money we paid to make a phone call or an email just to ask if the home office needed more proof; proof they finally requested hours before denying us after all. There was no reason to this chaos, only madness. 

And yet, in that madness there crept into my heart an undeniable peace. After the tears, the anger, and the seemingly unquenchable frustration, I began to recall a word the Lord had given me during the whole process. It was a word I had mentally denied, not wanting to give heed to hopelessness and worry but now came to me with startling clarity.

"Lazarus died before I got there...."




.......................................................................................................................................................

They'd sent for Jesus the instant their brother fell ill. And yet, quite uncharacteristically, he never showed up. The only man who could have stopped Lazarus's swift descent into the grave had refused to attend the sickbed at all. 

Lazarus's sister Martha inhaled deeply, surveying the teeming crowd of mourners packed inside their small house. It had only been that full once before, when Jesus had sat in their midst and regaled them with stories of God and of hope. Mary had sat at his feet drinking in every word. 

Oh, but she'd been frustrated with her sister that day! She'd given her an earful about what it meant to be a hostess to a man of great standing like the teacher. But Jesus had stopped her mid-rant and told her to come sit down and join her sister. He wanted her company, not her labor. 

A sad smile lit her face for a moment at the memory, then dissolved into frustrated tears. That seemed an age ago. Now, Lazarus was dead, Mary was curled up in a corner sobbing her heart out, and the teacher, their friend, was nowhere to be found. 

Martha stood up quickly and headed towards the kitchen. Work. That would help.  If she just kept her hands busy then perhaps she could squelch the undying ache that filled her heart. Her only brother was dead and the man she had loved and trusted more than any on this earth hadn't even bothered to show up to the funeral.

 Perhaps he was delayed on the road? She consoled herself with the thought. But no. Jesus of Nazareth would have been there in an instant if he had wanted to, her throat tensed in involuntary anger. 

"Jesus!" someone whispered. "He's been seen outside the village!" The word spread through the mourners  like wildfire. 

"Good man. He's come to say his goodbyes, of course." 

"Pity. He healed so many." 

"Couldn't he have....?"

It was all too much.  So. He had finally decided to show up, had he? Glancing around, she edged herself toward the door. Thankfully, most of the mourners' focus was on the keening Mary.

Martha's steps quickened. She would go tell him exactly what she thought of his so-called friendship! What good was it to have the power to heal any and everyone when you didn't lift a finger for your dearest friends? Her fists curled in anger as she marched down the road, stirring up the dust behind her. Finally she saw him walking towards her, surrounded by his disciples. 

"Martha," he said in a voice so filled with sorrow and compassion her rage instantly dissolved. 

All the grief and sadness stored inside her came pouring out as she fell on her knees in front of him. 

"Lord, if you had been there..." she choked between sobs. "My brother wouldn't have died." There it was. The truth. 

With a long groan, he got on his knees with her and pulled her close to him as her sobs deepened. The disciples looked at each other in disbelief. Was this the same woman that would give you the tongue lashing of your life if you spilled a crumb on her floor?

After she'd cried until she could cry no more, Jesus put his hands on either side of her face and spoke to her, tears shining in his eyes. "Your brother...will rise again." 

Martha looked at him in confusion. It was not the answer she'd expected. "I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day," she recalled the ancient prophesy.

"I am the resurrection and the life," he looked at her meaningfully. "He who believes in me will live even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." 

Surely he couldn't mean... "Do you believe this?" He looked at her reading every emotion. 

Suddenly, she knew. Even though he hadn't come when she wanted him to. Even though he'd failed her in her hour of need. Even though he was asking of her the hardest thing he possibly could, her trust in the face of all reason. She knew from the depths of her heart she believed this man and everything he stood for. 

"Yes Lord," she looked at him as if seeing him for the first time. "I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God...." 

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As you may know, within minutes, Jesus arrived at Lazarus's tomb, and with a move that would inspire his assassination, brought the dead man back to life. It was by far one of His greatest miracles. 

 This last week, I watched the death of some of my dearest hopes. As my husband said, the first year of our marriage will always be remembered as one of tragic separation and loss. That's a story no one really wants to be a part of. 

I find myself mourning what could have been, what should be. And yet, in this mourning I feel a strange, almost inconsistent hope. Jesus hasn't changed from the moment He stood at that grave site and emptied it of inhabitant. I truly don't understand why He brought my husband into my life only to allow him to be cruelly wrenched away. I don't know why He's allowed us to suffer so much hardship, so quickly. I don't know why He didn't rescue me when I cried out to Him, begging Him for a visa that would have been so easy for Him to approve. 

And yet.... I know Him. I know that even in my defeat and loss, His triumph will be great. I know that He is my comforter and my strength now when I dearly need it most. I know that He will win this battle though all seems lost. So here I stand, standing at the tomb of my dreams , waiting for His voice to call out once more. "LAZARUS. RISE UP!" 




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