Sitting in the Suckiness
Monday April 11, 2022
Created by Lauren Cubberley
John 12:1–11 (NIV)
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
When reading this story, I am reminded of how fully present Jesus is with those around him, and how those around Jesus are fully present with him. Martha shows her presence by serving those around her. Lazarus shows his presence by sitting and talking with Jesus. And Mary shows her presence by stopping to wash Jesus’ feet.
Despite knowing what was to come, Jesus allowed himself to be present in that moment with those around him. Lent is a season of waiting. We know when we begin Ash Wednesday that this story will end with good, but it is hard to see it that way, especially during Holy Week. Yes, we know that Jesus died for our sins, and that is powerful and amazing, but it is hard not to feel grief and anguish during these times where it feels like all we ever hear about are the wrongs in the world — racism, discrimination, abuse, and more. We almost need to continuously remind ourselves, “But wait, it will get better,” and hope that this is really the case (because for so many it has not gotten better). But are we allowed to know or hope it will get better and still sit in the grief that we are feeling?
It is hard to look on the bright side of things in our world today. I often find myself saying, “this sucks right now, but it will get better,” but why can’t I just say, “this sucks?” That’s it. I think there tends to be this fear of sitting in the suckiness of life because we are afraid we will never be able to get out of it. But we will. Jesus sat and was present despite the “suckiness” of his arising situation. In this Holy Week, I encourage you to sit and be present on this day, not what is to come. It may cause you grief and pain, but luckily for us, in this story, we know how it ends.
God of Ever Presence, embolden us to be honest in the midst of our suffering and to be aware of your presence even in those times of struggle. Amen.