“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” John 11:25-26 (ESV)
I want to be a woman who trusts God no matter what. A woman with a heart more prone to be at peace than in a perpetual state of panic. A woman who can look at circumstances that appear beyond all hope and know that, with God, there’s always hope.
But when God's timing seems questionable, His lack of intervention seems hurtful, and His promises seem doubtful, I confess I get afraid. Confused. And left alone with those feelings, I can't help but feel disappointed God isn't doing what I assume a good God should do.
Can you relate?
This is exactly the kind of situation we read about in John 11.
Lazarus became ill. His sisters Mary and Martha sent Jesus a message to tell Him. I would expect Jesus to urgently respond. But, He stayed an extra two days and then headed to Bethany, where Lazarus was.
At first glance, Jesus' delayed response truly does seem peculiar. Especially when we read in John 11:5 that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. But then verse 6 says, "So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was" (ESV).
If I love someone and they get deathly sick, my initial reaction would not be to wait around a few more days! I would frantically try to get to them as quickly as I could.
But John 11:17 tells us that by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. In those days, Rabbinic tradition said the spirit of the person who died hovered over the body for three days and then departed. At the end of the three days, as the body began to decompose, they believed it was "officially" too late, and death was final.
So, when Jesus finally arrived, all hope seemed lost. Lazarus was “beyond hope” dead.
Jesus had a purpose, though. And while His response on the surface may seem out of character, some careful observations throughout the rest of this story give us possible insight into why Jesus delayed His departure.
First, Jesus was very specific as to why He was going to see Lazarus. Verse 4 tells us His purpose was for God’s glory to be displayed through this illness, so the Son of God would be glorified. Timing His arrival set the stage for Jesus to reveal the extent of His power and might — leaving no room for doubt over His divinity.
We also get a close look at the incredibly faith-filled conversation that took place between Martha and Jesus when He drew near. (John 11:21-27)
Martha's faith was real. She believed Jesus could do miracles. She knew He could heal people. But this situation was hopeless, right? Imagine the agony and pain of knowing that if Christ had been present, He could have saved her brother. In the midst of this reality, Martha still confesses the might of Christ, acknowledging that Jesus could ask anything of the Father, and it would be granted to Him.
But Martha was missing the point.
She was looking forward to a future resurrection (John 11:24) when Jesus wanted her to focus on what He was going to do in the present. She’d given up hope of seeing Lazarus alive this side of eternity.
Who could blame Martha for feeling hopeless? It's hard when we find ourselves walking through devastating circumstances that appear like they'll never get any better. But I believe God wants us to embrace powerful truth today.
We don't have to know all the details. We don't have to know the whys and the hows. But we can trust Jesus will accomplish His purpose. Even if our circumstances aren't good, His purpose always is.
Let's not miss Jesus' question to Martha in John 11:25-26. He begins with saying, "I am" and ends with, "Do you believe this?"
That's the question for all of us, my friend. Will you believe Jesus at His word? Even if He delays His response? Even if you can't ever see the fruit in this life? Even if the blanks remain blank and the questions unanswered? Will you believe, even if …? Even if.
Oh Lord, give us relief from our unbelief.
We may be facing a delay, distraction or even devastation for a season. But it’s not a final destination. Resurrection is coming. For some of us, it will be like Lazarus and happen miraculously this day. But for all who trust in Jesus as Savior, whether our circumstances change or not, there’s an eternal hope because His resurrection power has the final say.
In eternity, Jesus wins.
Father God, thank You for reminding me of truth today. The truth that doubt doesn’t have the final say. Disease doesn’t have the final say. Heartbreak doesn’t have the final say. Even death doesn’t have the final say. The only One who gets the final say in my life is Jesus. He is the Resurrection and the Life. My future and my present hope. So I’m choosing to declare today that even if You don’t do what I keep asking, I will trust You still. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (ESV)
Learn to shift your suspicion that God is cruel or unfair to the biblical assurance that He is protecting and preparing you with Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. Pre-order your copy here today, and get exclusive access to a Facebook group Lysa is hosting, where you can process hard things in a safe place.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
Where are you struggling with unbelief in your life right now? Are there any areas where you are having to trust God “even if …”? Join in the conversation here.
© 2018 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.