Did Lazarus ever regret it—
coming out of that grave?
Do you think he ever wished
he was back
in the dark,
the unfeeling, uncaring, no longer aching?
He could hide,
didn’t have to face anyone or anything.
He could soak in the peace,
didn’t have to pay attention,
didn’t have to be drowned (out),
didn’t have to respond.
He could not feel his heart,
didn’t have that pain,
that throbbing love.
Sometimes the grave
seems like a refuge.
But Jesus called him out.
Called him back to life
For the glory of God.
For the people to believe.
For the sisters to see and joy.
For me. . .
for me to hear the voice of the One who wept
say “Come forth. Be loosed and let go.
Come forth and live,
O one whom I love.”
~Julie Hochstetler, June 2022
The word/name “Lazarus” was a prompt I saw (on Instagram, I believe), and this poem came pouring out when I sat down to write.
I suppose it’s technically not correct–Lazarus’s body was in the grave, but he/his soul wasn’t. He probably was with lots of people, feeling and living–more alive than ever. But, for the sake of poetry. . . 🙂 Anyways.
“Sometimes the grave / seems like a refuge.”
I’m not suicidal, so don’t freak out. But sometimes I long for this life to be over, for Jesus to sweep me up in a big hug and wipe away my tears (so many tears).
The way I mostly meant it though was “the grave of my feelings.” It’d be so much easier if I didn’t feel so deeply, I occasionally think. If only I didn’t have to deal with all this junk, with this broken and sinful world. I wish loving didn’t include hurting. Etc. Sometimes the grave, being dead inside, however you want to put it, seems like a refuge, a welcome relief.
But Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave. I keep coming back to that. He called him back to life, and living includes feeling and loving and hurting and healing and doing hard things and-and so much.
After my post “After Her Death,” somebody told me they could tell that I feel deeply. Then they told me that feelings are like a pendulum: the more/deeper you feel one way (grief, etc.), the more/deeper you feel the other way (joy, love, peace, etc.).
And both ways are necessary.
It’s the sick that need healing, the broken that need fixing. There’s no reason to ask for help if we know where to go, how to do this. Without knowing what fear feels like, we won’t realize what peace is and be thankful for it. If we have “all that we need,” we won’t understand that Jesus is all that we need. We won’t desire that rest and relief as we should if we’re not struggling under the heaviness. When we’re full, we won’t crave Him. If we haven’t felt hopeless, then we won’t quite understand that He is our hope.me, The Stone and the Storm
After Lazarus came out of the grave, Jesus told them to “loose him,” to take off his graveclothes (John 11:44).
And I hear Him telling me, “Take off your graveclothes; leave behind the entangling wraps of the grave.”
It’d be so much easier to ignore my feelings, to distract myself. It’d be so much easier to sit back and not interact, not reach out, not show up (physically, emotionally, whatever). It’d be so much easier to not intentionally love. It’d be so much easier to stay in the predictable safety and silence of the tomb.
But He tells me to come forth and leave behind any vestiges of that death, that “unfeeling, uncaring, no longer aching.”
So here I am, shuffling out of the grave, unwinding the graveclothes.
I will obey the voice calling me out, the voice of the One who wept.
P.S. I wrote this Friday afternoon. Friday night, I found out about another hard, sad situation (that happened that afternoon). I cried, prayed, hugged–and I laughed, sang, and had such a good time with my youth group. Coming out of the grave means feeling the sorrow, but it also means feeling the joy. Jesus wept and laughed, and I will do the same; I’m unwinding the graveclothes.