The Audacity of Grief

Lord, if only. . .sadbywater


I can understand Martha (because she seems a lot like me) saying Lord, if only… but Mary too?


Mary, Jesus said earlier, had “chosen the good part.” Articles and books have been written on the spirit of Mary, and how Martha should have/could have been more like Mary.


Yet here are both sisters. Martha, overworked, worrying about too many things…saying, Lord, if only…


And Mary, seemingly the more spiritual one, with the identical response…Lord, if only. . .


How many times have I said or thought if only… OS09078


If only…

I’d pay the bill on time, seen the deer, remembered to turn off the stove, mended that relationship… and on and on the list goes. Usually directed at myself. If only I had…


But Martha does not say, if only I’d cleaned one more room, If only I’d made a better meal or even if only, I’d been more like Mary…


And Mary does not say, if only I’d sat at your feet longer, Lord, or if only I’d helped Martha more.


Both of them instead, do something far more dangerous. They tell God things could have been different, (right, better) if only He had shown up!


Imagine God’s puny creation daring to tell him he was not in the right place at the right time. That this situation is HIS fault and out of His control. It could have been avoided IF Jesus had been more caring. Others echoed Martha and Mary’s sentiments in John 11:37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?”


When Jesus assures Martha she will see her brother again she assumes he means the lightedcrossresurrection, our ultimate assurance from God. But Martha’s reaction was like “Well yeah, sure, you will do that. Someday. But I wanted him back now, and you weren’t here when you could have been.” Lord, if only…


I so relate to them. They could not see the Master’s hand. I cannot always see His hand either. They only knew they wanted their loved one back, and that Jesus could have stopped death. I too know that God alone controls life and death.

Job 14:5     Mortals have a limited life span.
You’ve already decided how long we’ll live—
you set the boundary and no one can cross it.

If only.

And how did Jesus respond to the ‘If onlys’? Jesus wept. Because he loved Lazarus or because he sympathized with Mary and Martha’s grief? Possibly, but I think Jesus wept because his closest earthly friends did not ‘get’ the eternal picture of why Jesus had come. It’s natural to look to the short-term miracles rather than eternal purpose. Grief focuses us in blindness, not grasping that He WAS there, that Christ IS God, and that He is the God of the past, the present and the future. He goes before me.


A friend recently posted how something happened to upset her and her daughter reminded her it was “a non-eternal.” That puts life’s upsets in its proper perspective.


Several years back my sisters and I made a red-bird challenge. Our daughters later joined in praying for one another whenever we saw a red bird. It’s been amazing how many red birds we see, and the sense of being prayed for we have experienced. One of our daughter’s last gifts to me was a felted red bird.

Join us in praying for perspective, to not allow non-eternals to sap redbird1strength, and to keep the eternal perspective front and center even if, especially if – and when, like Mary and Martha, I really don’t understand.



4 Comments on “The Audacity of Grief

  1. That was beautiful .. I will never see a red bird the same. Oh how I love you my dear friend


  2. Delores that was so beautifully put. By replying I can stop the “if only” of contacting you sooner. Everytime I ride by your mother’s house I say a prayer for you. My heart ached when your daughter passed away. I did post “something, of some site” but nothing directly to you. How wonderful I can thank you in advance for forgiving my acts of omission. I so enjoy the Be the Miracle posts & the sense of connection it brings. Tomorrow is the last in my dad’s house before it is sold, he died July 25. My family understands my need to say “goodbye” by means of cleaning the house. I’ve been cleaning it the last 15 years since my mother died. In my many thoughts tomorrow you will come to mind & I’ll give God thanks for the example you’ve been and for continued healing and blessing. I’m thankful for the beauty that grief can have. To experience loss of love means you had been blessed to have loved & been loved. To experience separation but having the hope in being reunited is beyond words. It’s in the sharing of grief a closeness is felt. God is the Master. Tears are of his design. Until next time, God’s peace, Denise Nault UPCAP (I hope you do remember me!!)


    • Denise, I certainly do remember you. and what you speak of as an act of omission, God saved for just the time I’d need it the most. I did see your note on the True Woman site, and tried to find out if you were there. I am so glad we can now connect again. You are right, I have loved and been loved deeply. I’ve been shocked these past weeks to discover how many people have experienced the loss of a child. I’ve been blessed too, knowing you, and hearing of your faithful prayers. The encouragement that others have seen God working on me and/or through me, is comforting and healing. After winter, I hope to visit my aunt and cousins up there, and hopefully we can link up as well. I’d love the opportunity to express my gratefulness face to face. I too will be thinking of you tomorrow and praying you will know Christ’s peace, grace and presence. Delores


  3. It is hard during the grieving times to see the value and purpose. Trusting God with ourselves and even harder our loved ones is a forever learning process. But the truths we know is that God is loving, God is just, and God is purposeful, among so many more awesome characteristics. Thanks for sharing your heart. It was a beautiful post.


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