Saint John’s account of the resurrection of Lazarus famously contains the shortest verse in the entire Bible: “Jesus wept.”
As well as being the shortest verse, I think it’s one of the most powerful. It’s indicative of the Lord’s love for his friends. Their sorrow is his sorrow. It’s indicative of his love for us. Our sorrow is his sorrow.
But the raising of Lazarus also shows us how Jesus treats his friends:
“Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when he heard that Lazarus was ill he stayed where he was for two more days before saying to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judaea.’” (Jn 11:5-7)
Jesus could have travelled to Bethany immediately, and healed his friend before Lazarus died. He could have spared Martha and Mary their sorrow and grief. But instead, he permits all three of his friends to suffer, so that “the Son of God will be glorified.” (Jn 11:4)
This is how Jesus treats his friends. It’s how he treats you and me. He could prevent our suffering, but instead he permits it. He invites us to share in his cross, all for the glory of God.
This is a reminder to us, to rectify out intentions and purify our motives. The glory of God should come before everything else — even our own needs. When we do this, when we desire God’s glory before everything else, we’ll be happy like the saints are happy.
Consider St Mary MacKillop’s memory of her illicit excommunication:
“I do not know how to describe the feeling, but I was intensely happy and felt nearer to God than I had ever felt before. The sensation of the calm beautiful presence of God I shall never forget.”
That sort of joy in the midst of suffering is only possible when a person sincerely desires God’s glory before everything else. It’s the secret of the saints, and it’s the call of every disciple.
Please God, whenever suffering or grief visits us, we embrace our cross with serenity and joy. Please God, we can imitate the saints, and in our affliction turn to the Lord — who could have delivered us, but did not — with hope and faith.
Omnia in gloriam dei facite. Do everything for the glory of God.