Lesson: John 11:1-45
I just returned Tuesday from a whirlwind trip to Nepal, where I met my younger daughter and her husband on their spring break from their teaching jobs in Bangladesh. I say “whirlwind” because if you travel to Nepal and back in a week, nearly half of your time is spent traveling; but also because my mind and heart are still swirling with what I experienced. I know some of you have been to Nepal; Phil and Jo Gross spent nearly a year there. For those of you who have not, it’s about as far away from here as you can get, and I don’t just mean in miles. Nepal is a Third World country; a developing nation; whatever the politically correct term is these days for a place where you can’t drink the water and you can’t trust the food; where basics like plumbing and electricity can’t be assumed. I saw amazing things, both beautiful and alarming. The sunrise over the Himalayas; ancient temples and shrines; two world heritage sites; and an eight-year-old girl who is a “living goddess.” Two people and a goat on a motorcycle. The river running through Kathmandu choked with garbage; dust and air pollution so bad many people wear masks. And the things you can’t necessarily see but hear about: a low literacy rate and appalling statistics about human trafficking.
As I mentioned to a physician in our congregation last week, it’s times like this that I wish I were a doctor, because then I could offer something real, something more helpful than my tourist dollars. In the face of Nepal’s poverty and social chaos, I feel pretty helpless.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died,” say the dead man Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, to Jesus. Who has not felt a similar pang during times of grief or tragedy, or when overwhelmed by monumental problems: “God, where are you?” “God, couldn’t you have done something to prevent this?” “God, why did this happen?” “God, I feel so helpless.” Read more →