This morning, as I pondered this topic, as I read a fragment of the story I want to share with you today, I was deeply moved.
Think about how many people today face situations where there seems to be no hope.
Where pain and despair is the only thing left to cling to.
Feel for a thousandth of a second that sadness, hopelessness, and pain.
And at the same time think about God’s deep love, sympathy, and care for us.
There are simply no words.
Whatever your circumstance when reading these lines, I want to promise you something.
After reading them there will be peace in your heart and you will be able to see your situation from a different perspective.
There is a particularly moving story in the gospels, a little long for what we have become accustomed to on the blog, but it is worth it because it is deeply beautiful.
Do you dare to read it?
Now a man named Lazarus was sick.
He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (…)
So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death.
No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.
It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
(…) So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.
But let us go to him.”
Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
(…) When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.”
When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, (…) he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
“Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.
It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.
“Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.
I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
| John 11:1-44
How was the story?
I will try to make a few points that I consider to be key to this story.
I will do my best, but beyond what I can express, I assure you that God can say many more things to you if you just meditate in prayer over and over again in this text.
My favorite part, the one that moved me the most is when Mary begins to cry at the feet of Jesus and unburden herself there.
But we’ll talk about this later.
For now, I would like to start by telling you this: when we are going through tough situations we always do something, look at ourselves.
There is nothing unusual about that, as these circumstances affect us directly and hurt us.
But do you know?
All the difficult circumstances we go through in our lives are opportunities for God to be glorified through them.
This is exactly what Jesus manifests when he is given the news that Lazarus is sick.
“This disease is not of death, but it is for the glory of God and for the Son of God to be glorified by it.”
This is not to tell you that these difficulties are sent by God.
By its nature, it is evident that God is not interested in hurting us but quite the opposite.
On the contrary, many of these painful events occur as a result of wrong decisions we have made in the past or because of wrong decisions made by others in the exercise of their free will.
Some others because of circumstances beyond our control that result from attacks normal of the spiritual warfare in which we are involved.
Regardless of the nature and origin of the circumstance you go through, if you will allow me, I would recommend that you do what Jesus did.
Scripture says that Jesus loved Lazarus and you could read it for yourself, of course, it saddened him that he was sick.
However, he did not allow his pain to make him set his sights on himself, but he set his eyes on God the Father.
There at this time, He realized that this event, more than a cause for bewilderment, was an opportunity for Him to be glorified.
Another thing to learn from this story is that, although we do not know what is happening, the Lord is always acting; still in an unexpected way.
And when Jesus found out he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was.
Doesn’t it happen to you that when you read this story and it says:
“And when Jesus found out he was sick”…
You immediately think that the idea that follows will be:
“he immediately departed with his disciples to Bethany”
Or something like what he said to the King’s Official days before:
“Come home, that Lazarus lives”
For some reason I do.
The reason is that it would be the most obvious thing that could happen.
The same way when you turn a movie and you know what’s going to happen.
But you read it.
It doesn’t happen.
And frankly, with Jesus almost never happens what everyone would expect.
The Lord decides to stay two more days where he was.
He didn’t want anyone to question the miracle He was about to do.
Jesus decides to wait for Lazarus to die and when he has already died, he decides to set out on the journey home.
Scripture says that when Jesus finally arrives, Lazarus was already four days dead and therefore he was in a state of death.
No one could say that it had been an epilepsy attack or that Lazarus was actually pretending to be ill.
They had to accept that God had worked the miracle.
Why do I mention this?
For God, there is nothing impossible.
And better yet, He can see the full picture of what is going on in our lives while we can only see what is before our eyes.
The Lord is going to use the situation you are going through for your good and for his glory, whatever the outcome of it.
He will use it so that you trust him, believe more in him, love him more, and so that other people see his glory through his works in your life.
The scripture says that:
(…) God arranges all things for the good of those who love him (…).
| Romans 8:28
Have you ever seen a little boy drop his ice cream on the ground and it gets completely ruined?
Have you seen his face, disfigured by the sadness and size of his tears?
You know everything will be fine, but the child doesn’t.
Where else have you seen that same face?
God who loves us so much, sees us suffer, and weeps with us; but he knows that all will be fine, while we do not.
We can only trust Him.
Another beautiful fragment of the story is told when Martha goes out to meet Jesus who had preferred to stay away from everyone else.
And Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
But I also know now that whatever you ask of God, God will grant you.”
What a faith!
Your brother had died and yet you were waiting for Jesus.
Although he was slow, you still trusted him so much that you knew he could solve the situation.
You knew that even death wasn’t powerful enough for Jesus and that even if your brother stayed dead everything would be fine because Jesus was going to be there.
Martha’s reaction was very different from that of Mary, her sister.
Martha was at peace and trusted in the Lord while Mary suffered and cried inconsolably.
Neither attitude is wrong.
All people are different and we are in different moments of spiritual maturity.
Don’t make things worse by judging yourself for your reactions to the painful circumstances you go through.
Still, I don’t know about you, but I want Martha’s faith for me far above Mary’s attitude.
What if we ask God together every day to give us that faith?
To be able to trust and wait on him even if while we wait on him, the results are frightening and painful.
Be sure that all will be fine because he is with us.
There could be no better way to deal with the difficult situation you are going through.
Something that also captivates my attention from this story is Jesus’ response to Martha when she does not understand his direct statement that he will resurrect Lazarus:
Jesus said to him, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even though he is dead, will live.
And everyone who lives and believes in me will not die forever.
Do you know anything?
Jesus was unveiling a precious and profound spiritual truth that you need to understand today.
Death is not the end.
Death is an already defeated enemy.
This is why Jesus says of Lazarus:
“Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I’m going to wake him up.”
Jesus has already overcome death in his life, in his death on the cross, and destroyed its power when he himself rose again.
(…) neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor the present, nor the to come, nor the high, nor the deep, nor anything else created can separate us from the love that God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord.
| Romans 8:38
If we believe in it, and remain faithful, we do not have to fear death.
Nor do we have to fear the death of a loved one because death for those who love Jesus is nothing more than a dream from which he will awaken us when he returns to seek us.
And Jesus asks Martha:
(…) Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.”
When we face death we do not face defeat.
We face the greatest hope.
One that makes me shudder as I write these lines!
To those of us who love him and are faithful, Jesus will raise us from the dead and we will be with him forever.
And do you believe this?
Nothing could bring you more peace as you face this difficult circumstance.
But there’s more:
(…) Martha went and called Mary, her sister, and secretly said to her, “The Master is here, and he calls you.”
Hearing this, she got up in a hurry and went to meet him.
(…) when Mary came to where Jesus was, and saw him, she threw herself at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Then Jesus, seeing Mary cry (…), was deeply moved (…)
Even now, as I did this morning, as I read these lines I am moved by these words to the point of feeling like crying.
Mary runs out to find Jesus.
How much beauty in that single sublime moment.
A soul heartbroken in tears and pain, upon learning that the beloved Jesus was there for her, abandons everything else, everyone else, and runs off to meet him.
She runs out to meet him.
Try to imagine the profound moment when she runs to Jesus’ feet to cry and unburden herself telling him that if he had done something, her brother would not have died.
And what else can we do at a time like this but run to Jesus and unburden ourselves with him?
He is faithful!
Have you been doing it?
Have you run out to meet him?
Have you unburdened yourself with Jesus?
Nothing will be the same.
Make no mistake in thinking that the Lord is indifferent to your pain for the fact that he sees beyond what you see and knows that all will be fine.
That is not the case.
The Lord is deeply moved by your sadness and suffering.
You already read it, Jesus knew that he was going to resurrect Lazarus and that everything would be fine but when he saw Mary crying he was deeply moved and says that:
(…) with his troubled spirit, he said, “Where did they put him?”
They said, “Lord, come and see him.”
And Jesus wept.
Once again deeply moved, Jesus went to the tomb (…)
Friend, friend; Jesus wept and was deeply moved to see the pain of his friends.
Even though he knew he was going to resurrect Lazarus and soon the crying was going to go away.
Don’t expect less sympathy for yourself.
He’s there by your side now.
If you just allow and invite him to be close to you.
(…) Jesus went to the tomb, which was a cave and had a stone on top of it.
Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”
Frankly, the situation was chaotic and disastrous.
Four days dead.
It was the worst of times and Jesus asked for the most daring of things.
There seemed to be no turning back, no solution.
Look, even at your worst, the Lord can work a miracle.
Don’t stop believing.
Don’t stop waiting.
Don’t stop trusting.
Don’t stop obeying either.
Much less, don’t stop accepting his perfect will whatever it is.
Martha, the sister of the one who had died, said to him, “Lord, he already smells bad, for he has been there for four days.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I not told you that, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
Then they removed the stone.
The principle here is simple, trusting implies obeying the Lord.
Keep obeying, keep trusting him.
From one moment to the next, whether you look at the present or look to the past; You will see the glory of God!
His hand will have led the way regardless of what happens.
Do you know why I say that?
For before Jesus ordered the stone to be moved, the miracle had already been done.
(…) Jesus, raising his eyes high, said, “Father, I thank you for listening to me.
I knew you always listen to me; but I said it because of the crowd around, that they may believe that you have sent me.”
And having said that, he cried out loudly, “Lazarus, come out!”
And the one who had died came out, his hands and feet wrapped in bandages, and his face wrapped in a shroud.
Then Jesus said to them, “Take off his bandages, and let him go.”
What a glorious and sublime moment!
I wish I had been there.
From one moment to the next, in an instant, when everyone was plunged into the deepest sadness.
Suddenly the sources of tears dried up.
The faces lit up.
The smiles were drawn.
The feet jumped and danced.
Arms crossed opened to hug.
Dry lips were moistened to kiss the cheeks and wash away tears.
The Lord had been glorified.
I want to tell you something about it, whatever your circumstance, whatever the outcome of your situation, I can assure you of something: The Lord can change your lament into dancing and joy!
He will transform your circumstance into glory for his great name.
Keep trusting him, keep waiting on him, keep loving him, he takes care of you.
Even if things don’t go the way you want or expect.
Pray with me:
Lord I trust you, I trust you even though I can’t see and I know you love me and you work everything for my good.
Glorify yourself in my circumstance.
I beg you to work a miracle.
I trust that whatever happens, you will be with me.
That nothing will separate me from you and that you are now by my side.
Enter my heart I beg you.