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Now a certain man named Lazarus was ill. He was of Bethany, the village where Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2 This Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped His feet with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was [now] sick. 3 So the sisters sent to Him, saying, Lord, he whom You love [so well] is sick. 4 When Jesus received the message, He said, This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by) it. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. [They were His dear friends, and He held them in loving esteem.] 6 Therefore [even] when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He still stayed two days longer in the same place where He was. 7 Then after that interval He said to His disciples, Let us go back again to Judea. 8 The disciples said to Him, Rabbi, the Jews only recently were intending and trying to stone You, and are You [thinking of] going back there again? 9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? Anyone who walks about in the daytime does not stumble, because he sees [by] the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks about in the night, he does stumble, because there is no light in him [the light is lacking to him]. 11 He said these things, and then added, Our friend Lazarus is at rest and sleeping; but I am going there that I may awaken him out of his sleep. 12 The disciples answered, Lord, if he is sleeping, he will recover. 13 However, Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He referred to falling into a refreshing and natural sleep. 14 So then Jesus told them plainly, Lazarus is dead, 15 And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him. John 11:1-15 AMPC
The scripture starts out giving a background to Mary’s relationship to Jesus. She was the same Mary that worshipped Him without restraint or care for what others would think. She is the one often used today as a picture of true worship of our Savior. She washed His feet with her hair and the most expensive perfume she could find. Surely He would answer when she called.
After Jesus got Mary’s message, He decided to wait two days before going to her. Jesus knew the reason for Lazarus’ sickness – He said it plainly. Jesus knew the end of the story. The purpose of Lazarus being sick was not to end in death. It was to honor God and bring Him glory! What if we began to view our trials in this way? To see our problems as opportunities to honor God and to bring Him glory? That would totally change the way we go through difficulties wouldn’t it? If that was our goal, imagine how it would affect our words, our thoughts, our attitudes!
Jesus loved Lazarus, Martha and Mary – they were His dear friends. God paused the story to remind us of something of utmost importance! He always finds a way to remind us in the middle of trials that no matter what how bad things seem – He loves us.
We need to stop gauging God’s love for us by the comfort of our lives. His love is so transcendent it can’t be bound by our limited understanding of what love looks like.
Had Jesus been there when Lazarus was sick, it would’ve been just one more healing for the disciples to witness. So Jesus said he was glad He wasn’t there – FOR THEIR SAKES! So they could have another opportunity to believe in Him. Trials, tough times, stressful times, sickness, lack, problems – even the ones we brought on ourselves – are always an opportunity to believe! To believe that He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. To believe that God will never leave you nor forsake you. To believe that He will take care of you. To believe that you are so loved and most certainly not forgotten. A chance to believe God again.
Perfect timing can’t be rushed. Then it would cease to be perfect wouldn’t it? Mary didn’t know the purpose of her brother’s illness, nor was she assured that he would not die. We often find ourselves in similar circumstances. As far as we’re concerned, our situation requires immediate attention and God seems to be taking His own sweet time to get back to us with an answer!
What we fail to realize is this:
God chooses the moment to show up that will most greatly increase our faith in Him.
The increase in faith, comes through stretching beyond past limits. Walking in deeper waters than ever before. The place where we can no longer feel the sand beneath our toes. Where treading becomes a necessity to keep our heads above water. He loves us too much to leave us at the same place of faith that took us through our last trial. So He lovingly guides out a little further, all the while right there with us, watching…making sure the waves don’t overtake us. Under His protective gaze, we will never be utterly destroyed.
It’s in times like these that we need to let go of our feelings of entitlement because of a few ‘good works’ and choose to focus on 2 things:
- GOD IS GOOD – He will work all things for my ultimate good.
- GOD IS GOD – He is the Sovereign Lord who chooses what He will do and when.
We have to trust that God has a purpose and a plan to use our difficult situations in the way that will most greatly increase our faith, and the faith of others and bring Him glory. He does answer our cries. And He shows up at the prefect time, not necessarily when we call. He’s not a concierge God. He doesn’t work at the pleasure or will of His children. He does what any good Father would do – He does what is BEST for us.
Many of us look at life in the same immature way that toddlers do. They think that if they cover their eyes, they’re hidden. That because they can’t see you, you must not be able to see them. Their understanding of reality is limited to their senses. By what they can see. Just because we don’t know what God’s plan is, doesn’t mean He doesn’t have one. Just because we can’t see Him working doesn’t mean He isn’t there.
God help us to know You are with us even when we can’t see You at work. Help us to trust You even when the path doesn’t make sense to us. Help us to believe that You are Good. To trust that You have a plan. And when we have believed, to be ready to believe You again.