By Neil Schori
Sometimes life makes no sense at all. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been told things that have rocked my world as I once knew it. These things will have life-long implications for me and how I’ve viewed my existence. I also witnessed a terrible motorcycle accident that placed a man in the ICU. It is in times like these that I want to withdraw and throw away everything that I thought I knew about God and his plans and his providence.
I mean, couldn’t God just step in and STOP bad things from happening?! And when he doesn’t, what does that mean? Am I being punished for something? Is it divine retribution? Or is God not even there? Or even worse…does he just not care? All of these are real questions for those “dark nights of the soul,” aren’t they? Maybe you feel like that today, and you need some direction and truth. I know that I do!
Have you ever read the story of Lazarus? Lazarus was a man in Bible times, and he was known to be a personal friend of Jesus. Well, Lazarus got really sick, and his sisters sent a message to Jesus about it. They knew that if Jesus heard about it, he could make Lazarus well. After all, they’d seen him do this so many times. The blind could see and the paralyzed could walk again. Surely Lazarus would get the same care, right?
The Bible tells us that Jesus stayed where he was for TWO MORE DAYS after getting word of how sick Lazarus was. As a matter of fact, Lazarus died before Jesus even made it into town. That makes no sense to me! I mean, what could be more important than helping someone? I wouldn’t be a pastor for too long at my church if I treated people like that, would I? If this is what it means to be a friend of Jesus’, then I’ll pass on it!
In the Gospel of John 11: 14-15, we hear what Jesus had to say to his followers after he revealed to them that Lazarus had died~
. 14 … “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
At this point, I’m thinking not only was Jesus LATE to heal Lazarus, but then Lazarus died, and Jesus had the guts to say that he was actually glad that he wasn’t there?! That really throws my understanding of God for a complete loop. But then I read the next part of the story and I start to see a little more clearly.
Jesus said that he was glad he wasn’t there to heal Lazarus, not because he didn’t care for Lazarus or because he had other things to do. He told his followers that he was glad that he wasn’t there so that they would believe. But Lazarus is dead? What can Jesus do now? It was already too late, right?
Jesus was so late to heal Lazarus that we find out Lazarus had been buried for 4 days by the time Jesus made his way into town. John 11: 41-44 says~
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 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.”
Some of you today can’t make any sense of your lives. It seems like God has forgotten you and you don’t see any silver lining on the horizon. I want to assure you that God has not forgotten you. The story of Lazarus made no sense, either, but God was at work. And he was doing more than just healing. He was breathing life into something that was already dead. Allow that to bring you tremendous hope because in just the same way, he’s working in your lives, too.
Easter is just around the corner and my prayer for all of you is this: that you would trust God to work his resurrection power into your lives. He has not forgotten you. Just believe.