“So what?” shows total indifference and may make you want to shake your preteen.
“So who cares?” shows disguised heartbreak and may make you want to hug your wounded child.
“So big deal!” shows arrogant defiance and may make you want to throw in the parenting towel altogether.
Sometimes though, so simply shows the power of cause and effect.
It’s funny how one little word can mean so much. Longer words, like banana or quarterback or Chattanooga, bring only one meaning to mind, but so…?
So can mean SO many different things.
In Sunday’s Gospel we hear of the death and rising of Lazarus (John 11: 1-45), and the word so appears outright in 20% of the lines. So many more imply the word.
The statistic is surprising, but what is more so is the use of the word when it refers to Jesus. We know Jesus as the Good Shepherd. We know He leaves 99 sheep to go after one lost lamb, yet here is Lazarus, one of His good friends, and what does Jesus do?
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
He loved them SO He stayed away?
What was so important that Jesus didn’t drop everything and run to His friend? What drew His attention away from His friends’ pain? Lazarus must have been suffering. The women must have been praying fervently as they cared for their dying brother’s needs. Physically, mentally, and emotionally they must have been so spent! Yet, Jesus purposely distances Himself for two days. What long days those must have seemed!
Despite all I know of Jesus as Fisher of Men, Carpenter, Shepherd, Teacher, and so many honorable, hardworking titles, I hear this and picture Him lounging poolside with a plate of grapes and a cool beverage. I picture Him lazily holding court and being entertained as the center of attention. I picture Him finally, reluctantly with a kind of, “SO…I-guess-I-can’t-put-it-off-any-longer…” attitude rising to go to Lazarus.
What an injustice that image of our Lord is!
What’s worse is that, while I don’t quite believe Jesus lounges poolside or rises reluctantly when I cry out to Him, some days I might as well! Some days I wonder if He’s heard my cries at all or knows how severe my “illness” is.
That first use of the word so is hard enough to understand, but the next time the word, “So,” is applied to Jesus is just astounding.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,”
Imagine the shock those grieving Lazarus’ passing must have felt! How hurt! How discouraged! How confused! How betrayed! They had put their hope in Jesus, but He hadn’t made an effort to come quickly. He had let His friend die what we can assume was a difficult death. Then, He let the family grieve and mourn without His being there to comfort them. The final straw might’ve been this moment of, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there.”
Jesus doesn’t use the meaningless phrases many of us would in similar circumstances. He offers no apologies, no excuses. He simply says He is glad He was not there.
One of Jesus’ best friends died and Jesus says He is glad He was not there; what Hope do I have that He will want to come to me in my suffering?
Many stop there and give up when they cry out and Jesus does not come as quickly as they think He should. Maybe they picture a detached Jesus sitting in an ivory tower watching bad things happen to good people. Like a child who storms off yelling “So who made you boss?” these people fail to hear the end of His sentence, and miss the rest of Jesus’ plans.
And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.
It’s not just that Jesus was busy or that He was glad His friends suffered. It’s that cause and effect thing. Jesus LOVED them, SO…. He remained where He was for two days! The disciples did not understand Jesus’ power, SO… He was glad to give them this opportunity.
Shortly after this, we see the always active Martha reaching out to the Lord. Martha who gets a bad rap for being a do-er instead of a be-er shows her great faith in the Lord in the midst of her pain and loss and confusion. She does not lash out at Christ but accepts what has happened and continues to honor Him.
When their conversation is complete, Martha secretly finds her sister Mary and tells her Jesus has come for her too. Martha greets Jesus, runs home, pulls Mary away from the mourners, has a private conversation, and Mary goes to greet Jesus. During all this, it appears Jesus is taking His sweet time. By the time Mary comes to Him, He still has not entered the village never mind the women’s household.
Mary falls at the feet of Jesus and weeps crying out to Him from the depths of her broken heart. The Jews around her cry out too. Her pain is that intense. Their love for the strong and gentle Lazarus is that deep.
Next there is an implied SO…
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed – and deeply troubled,
The Jesus who Loved this family, who waited two days, who approached the village so slowly, who could have prevented death and all that goes with it, but chose to let death happen became perturbed and deeply troubled after the women came to Him broken and despairing. It was not until this point that Jesus went to Lazarus’ tomb.
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
So they took away the stone.
Yet, still Jesus does not go to Lazarus. First Jesus prays to His Father for all to hear. Then He calls out and makes this man, who had been sick and has now spent four days in a tomb, come to Him.
I always wonder what Lazarus must’ve thought walking out all bandaged up and blindfolded. To say I’d have been a bit freaked out would be the world’s greatest understatement! Yet binded and blinded, Lazarus goes to Jesus who tells onlookers to go to the once dead man and unwrap Him. Jesus, with all His power, could have made the bandages instantly fall from Lazarus, yet He wants others to help free him.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”
SO…how does Lazarus and all this apply to you and Marriage and divorce?
Jesus who is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving is also all patient. He sees things we cannot. He understands things we cannot. He knows the power to resurrect, whether it is resurrecting Joy and Love in a struggling Marriage or resurrecting Courage and Love in an unwanted divorce, comes only when we go to Him and meet Him where He is, not when we wait for Him.
His so is the effect. You are His cause.
He Loves you that much. He Loves you so much that He remains where He is rather than give in to our desires and compromise your reward. He Loves you so much that, despite being perturbed and deeply troubled, He patiently waits for the right moment to resurrect you so that you and others will believe, but this only comes to Him when you remove heavy stones blocking your way. It only happens when you act in Faith even in your pain, even in your inability to understand, even in your broken-heartedness.
We come to Him, so He heals us.
In His sweet time.
Jesus’ healing doesn’t always mean healing happens in our timeline or in the way we want it to. It doesn’t mean our lives will be the way they were or that things will ever be easy or the same. Could Lazarus or anyone who had seen this have remained the same? Jesus’ healing doesn’t mean we won’t need to humbly seek help and ask others to help remove our bandages. It doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t deeply troubled and perturbed by our suffering. It doesn’t mean He is sitting idly by eating bonbons.
It does mean Jesus is freeing you to choose to come fully to Him. It does mean you walk with Him in your suffering. It does mean you never give up your Marriage. It means, when your Marriage has been found invalid, you never give up Loving anyway in whatever way Love now presents itself. It does mean you continue to find Joy in all circumstances! It means you have power in Christ.
It means Jesus is waiting patiently until the time is right in the bigger picture so that through your suffering you may fully come to Him, believe, and be free!
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
Through suffering and over time, our so becomes our effect. Jesus must be our cause.
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