Grave Disappointments

March 26, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

“The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” (John 11:28)

The ways of God can be difficult to understand. Disappointment and hurt can come by what happens in life, especially when we have expectations of how we think that God should act. 

Mary and Martha call for Jesus to come and help their sick brother, Lazarus. Jesus deliberately delays His coming. Meanwhile, Lazarus dies. When Jesus finally shows up, grave disappointment and hurt have already started to settle in. Jesus already knows what He will find.

Martha goes to meet Him, but Mary is too hurt to even go out to see Him. Jesus tells Martha to summon Mary: “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.” In our times of disappointment and disillusionment, our Teacher comes and asks for us. He cares about our feelings, but He cares more that we understand who He really is because that will bring more lasting fruit and glory to Himself.

We know Jesus on one level, but He wants to bring us to a deeper level. As such, sometimes He uses circumstances that we don’t understand to take us deeper. Jesus starts to engage with Mary, but she is in no mood for an eschatology lesson. She wants her brother, alive, here and now. Jesus wants to deepen the relationship they have, but she can only see what is in front of her, or in this case, who is not in front of her. 

We look at the short term, but Jesus looks at the eternal and long term. Our Teacher comes to us, asking for us by name, calling to us tenderly when we have experienced deep loss, disappointment, and grief. Sometimes we are not ready for what He has to say, but what He has to say can only be eternally life-giving. He wants us to know not just that there is a resurrection in some future day, but that He, Himself, is the resurrection. 

In our moments of grief, we can know that the Teacher is well aware of our deepest needs. Jesus chose to teach this lesson by involving some of His closest earthly friends. This can be a hard thing to understand, but we must know that the Lord’s wisdom is at work. When this happens to us, it can leave us shaken, but our dear Lord calls us to Himself so that He might teach, impart, and even resurrect. He may choose to press on those He loves dearly and who know Him deeply in order to impart greater truth. May we learn to receive comfort from the Resurrection Himself in the midst of our grave disappointments.

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek came to know the Lord in the early nineteen seventies and has a passion for organic church and the maturing of the Body of Christ. She loves to connect people and build healthy community in small groups. She travels widely and assists several mission teams. Rose-Marie also serves Women of the Word on their Board of Directors. She can be reached at email 
rmslosek@comcast.net

Roadblocks

by Bethany Wuerffel

2018 seems to be the year for road construction in our county and more specifically, in our exact location. Every single road we use in our immediate vicinity, except our own quiet little street, has been repaved in the past few months. The culmination of this roadwork confronted us three days ago when they closed two different places of a main highway our street connects with. Our street lies right between these two closures, meaning most destinations these days involve a detour.

While the outcome of this work is good as it was desperately needed and has created wider, smoother roads, the process has been exhausting. No matter which direction we go we’ve been confronted with ‘One Lane Road Ahead’, ‘Prepare To Stop’, ‘Detour Ahead’, and the least favorite, ‘Road Closed’ signs. Delays, unexpected stops, and new travel directions have all become the new ‘normal’ in our lives.

Lately my heart has been acting like the highway in front of my house. Every normal thought, processing, and action from my past now dead ends into a large, bright-orange ‘Road Closed’ sign. Except in the case of my heart, the signs read ‘Death’, ‘Loss’, and ‘Tears’…

…I go to change the shower curtain in my parents bathroom and am struck with a tears delay as I remember so many sweet moments of chatting with mom in that bathroom as she curled her hair and prepared for the day, and then at the end of her life when she could no longer do those things and I did them for her. I long for those times again.

…I make deliveries for my brothers egg business (a job my mom used to do for him) and every customer sweetly checks in on our family and we detour from our typical conversation to spend time reminiscing together, often with tears, of the many special memories of Mom.

…Our kitchen table is covered with sympathy cards, clean dishes that need to be returned to friends who incredibly blessed us with meals, and letters going out to supporters with memorial service information and an update on life without Mom. Every time I walk in the door I’m confronted with that table and the large orange ‘Road Closed Ahead’ sign that reads ‘Mom’s Gone’.

Unfortunately, sometimes the road closed signs have no warning. You just come flying around the corner and find yourself face to face with orange cones and a closed road.

A few days ago we picked up mom’s ashes from the funeral home. As soon as I picked up the bag holding the box and felt the unexpected weight of it, a whole flood of thoughts and emotions swept over me. Another detour to life as I walked down memory lane once again, remembering mom in her last days, her sweet presence and I how I loved to just sit in her room with her for hours at a time. There wouldn’t be much talking as her voice was quite weak, but we would hold hands and listen to music or sermons together and it was enough. Then I remember her the last time I saw her- at the funeral home for the viewing and how natural and unnatural she looked at the same time.

It’s this thought that causes my detour to take me past a gorgeous scenic overlook as I remember Mom isn’t really in the box I’m holding. Her empty shell is. The mom I know and love is rejoicing in heaven, having the time of her life. She’s free of stress, anxiety, and pain. She’s worshiping her beautiful Maker with every tear wiped from her face. Instead of holding my hand she’s holding His and basking in His presence. I stop for a moment and soak up that gorgeous view. I am so happy for her, but for me right now, it’s just a glimpse of that beauty and the ache of an empty hand. The latter overcomes the former as the large orange construction signs obscure my vision.

I could ignore the signs and plow through the closed section of the road. Two of my brothers (who will remain anonymous), actually did this recently. Unfortunately for both of them this didn’t work out so well. One of them had to call in reinforcements to get pulled out of a ditch, and the other tore off his bumper. Thankfully neither of them were hurt and no serious damage was done but it’s a poignant reminder to me that those signs are there for a reason both on the road and in my heart right now.

The Lord is good and sovereign and has a plan and purpose through this. I trust that He has put these road blocks and detours in my life right now because He is upgrading my heart and mind. He is blowing His healing power into the hurting places and working through the pain in ways He couldn’t have otherwise. And He is creating good because that is what He promises He will do in every situation. If I continue to submit to His roadblocks and detours, and seek Him daily, I trust the outcome will be worth all the delays and frustration along the way.

May I patiently submit to His plans and trust He is working even through the unexpected sorrow, the detours of pain, and the road blocks of loss. He is good.

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Bethany Wuerffel grew up with her 7 siblings as missionary kids in Papua New Guinea where her parents served with Wycliffe Bible Translators. As a young adult she pursued missions herself, moving to the Philippines for two years to study midwifery and serve the people there through childbirth with the love of Jesus. While she now calls North Carolina home, she continues to enjoy

Bethany at the Dead Sea, Israel

international travel and ministry work. Through Women of the Word, Israel has become one of her passions and she has traveled there several times for both tours and ministry. In 2018 she lost her mom to aggressive brain cancer. This post was written soon after her mom’s death as a form of processing the incredible loss of an amazing mentor, Mom, and dear friend.