A Broken Hallelujah: Who Am I?
by Sharon W. Betters
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? -John 11:25-26
Jesus uses events in our lives to show us new things about ourselves. Within a year after our son Mark’s death, our daughter Heidi married Greg, our son Dan started college, and our oldest son, Chuck, married Melanie. Suddenly I was preparing meals for two instead of six. Every trip to the grocery store reminded me of my changing life. The next two years were to have been Mark’s special time as our youngest child; he would have been the center of our attention. My husband and I had planned to use the time to prepare for the imminent empty nest.
Mark’s sudden death robbed us of our preparation time and hurled me into an unfamiliar and unwelcome role change. I was forced to reexamine my identity as a woman. Through Mark’s death, God put me at a frightening crossroad. Would passion for God or the loss of my son become the framework of my identity? Unable to make decisions and impatient with mindless chatter, I retreated from leadership in local women’s ministry. Who was I? How should I fill my days? How could I? How would I?
Learning to articulate my ultimate identity as God’s disciple rather than as a mother forced me to find new ways of responding to my redemption. Like the excruciating pain of learning to walk again after an injury, every step caused anguish, but my spiritual health demanded I face the challenge.
What if God’s plan for my life includes other losses? What did I have that could not be taken away….
Remember the story of Mary and Martha in John 11? Their brother Lazarus was dying. The sisters sent for Jesus with this message: “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3). Jesus who is bound by no one’s desires but God’s, took His time traveling to the home of His friends. By the time He arrived, Lazarus had been in the grave for four days.
What were Martha’s thoughts as she awaited His arrival? My own struggles to harmonize God’s character with the way He sometimes works gives me empathy for Martha. She knew Jesus loved Lazarus but the delay did not fit her definition of love…When finally Jesus arrived, Martha’s belief in His sovereignty rang out in her exclamation, “Lord if You had been here my brother would not have died. But I know even now God will give You whatever You ask” (John 11:20-21).
Jesus dealt with the grief of his sisters by gently leading them into deeper intimacy with Him. To Martha, He uttered these astonishing words:
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? -John 11:25
Martha’s response, considering the circumstances, was also astonishing:
Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world. -John 11:26
This proclamation of faith would determine Martha’s reaction to future circumstances and enable her to serve Him with contentment and joy. Jesus confronts each of us with the same question: “Do you believe this?” When I stood beside my son’s casket and cried, “Lord, if you had been there on that highway, my son would not have died?” a similar set of words echoed through my pounding head: “Sharon, I was there. I am the resurrection and the life. Mark is not dead. He is alive with Me. Do you believe this?”
My identity as a believer, a child of the King, determined my answer, but would my whispered “Yes” push me through my anguish to a place where God could use me as a physical demonstration of His faithfulness? Even the power to whisper “Yes!” came from intimacy with Christ:
(Not in your own strength) for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you – energizing and creating in you the power and desire – both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. -Philippians 2:13 Amplified
For many years, every morning when I woke, the headline in my soul was, “Mark is gone.” God’s indwelling Spirit gives me supernatural power moment by moment to choose submission to God, to reflect my identity as His child, and to seek His kingdom and His righteousness through obedience (Matthew 6:33).
I am learning that tearful disappointments do not mean God is absent, but He is walking in the fire with me. The future may change how I wait on Him but it cannot change who He is, how much He loves me, or my calling to serve Him. Please listen to my words; they are still hot from the refiner’s fire:
“Circumstances do not change who you are. Your primary calling is to reflect the character and nature of God. Whether you are experiencing pain or prosperity, you have many treasures to offer people. When God calls you to offer the treasures of your inheritance, you are on holy ground. He is doing “soul work” and He is giving you the privilege of fulfilling His promises in a needy heart. This is grace.”
Adapted from Treasures of Encouragement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon W. Betters is the author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness, and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a non-profit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children, and fourteen grandchildren.
For more from Daily Treasure please visit MARKINC.ORG.