Have you ever had the experience of God “unfolding” the meaning of a Scripture passage in your heart? Recently, He’s been doing that in my heart with John 11. This is the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Over the years, I have read this story in John, heard sermons preached on it and even read a book or two related to it. But as I’ve studied it in the context of brokenness, God is showing me something new from this miracle.
Jesus was poised to work. He was ready to raise a dead man for the glory of the Father, and He told the men to roll the stone away. But there was a very practical problem of which Martha was well aware. The stink. Martha’s first thought was of the stench of a man who has been dead for four days. In one translation, Martha simply says, “Lord, it stinketh.”
Martha’s simple protest represents what so many of us have felt when the Lord is poised to bring healing and redemption.
For God to work in your marriage, you may have to enter some pretty rotten places. The stone of the past needs to be rolled away, and you may need to revisit unpleasant conversations and experiences for God to breath new life into a dead relationship.
The same is true of healing from trauma. Who wants to talk about childhood sexual abuse or broken vows? I agree with Martha. It stinketh! Wouldn’t we be better off just keeping the tomb of the past sealed? Who wants to deal with that stink?
Working toward healing in any area of our lives means having difficult conversations and remembering hurtful things. I’ve met many, many women who long for freedom and redemption, but they run away because of the stink. “It’s better to leave the past in the past,” they say. Are you running away from the work of restoration God wants to do in your life or family because of the stench?
There are many marriages and relationships that are “quasi-healed” because no one wants to acknowledge the pain and difficulty of the past. An affair is swept under the rug because it’s too painful to acknowledge. You ignore an addiction because confronting it might be too disruptive. Or you limp along, allowing your past to haunt you but refusing to invite the Lord into the mess for the purpose of healing.
When the Lord rolls away the stone of our brokenness, he does so to bring new life. Will you trust Him with your stinky past, trusting that He truly can replace beauty for ashes and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair?
My friend, Jesus wants you to take off those “grave clothes” because He has breathed new life into what was dead. He can handle the stink and He will give you grace in the journey.
If you are willing to invite the Lord to roll away the gravestone of your heart, a great first step may be to read our book Surprised by the Healer. This book chronicles the stories of nine women who have experienced the power of God’s healing in their lives and marriages.