Try as I might, I fail often to heed Henry James admonition to writers – be one on whom nothing is lost. I am especially guilty when I read. I read great novels and get caught up in the story, and miss the beauty and artistry of the prose. It happens also when I read the Bible. I get lost in the primary story and overlook the subtleties that are often hidden in the text. Take the story of Lazarus rising from the dead. I’ve read the passages and heard them read in church, many times. Always, I focused on Jesus bringing back Lazarus from the dead, and didn’t follow Henry James and listen to the other parts of the story.
Take the beginning. Lazarus is dead and Jesus is still far away. Martha on hearing Jesus is coming, doesn’t wait for him to come and pay his respects. She goes out to meet Jesus and tells him straight out – where were you, if you were here, your best friend would still be alive. Have you ever wanted to talk to God that way? Have you wanted to cry out and say in anguish, life isn’t supposed to be this way? Well Jesus didn’t say to her “who are you to question where I’ve been.” He listens to her cry and then proceeds to have one of the most significant theological discussions in the New Testament. In these few passages Jesus lays it all out. (John 14: 23-27.)
It’s okay to be angry with God, to talk to him like you do your brother or sister. God can take our anger and hurt. God listens to our screams of anguish just as much as our whispers of gratitude. If we let out our feelings, we experience a deeper relationship with God, truer and more intimate. God also answers if we listen to what God says in response.