We are on Day 11 of South Bay Church's 21 Day Prayer challenge. If you would like to follow the blog with us, click here. Below are my reflections on John 11.
This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it. John 11:4
As John chapter 11 opens, Jesus gets word that one of his very dear friends is sick. The messenger tells him, "Lord, the one you love is sick." No name is given; no name is needed. It's the one Jesus loves. He knows right away. It's Lazarus.
His response seems so strange, though. One of his dearest friends is sick, he has the power to heal him, and yet he does nothing! Surely Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha, were baffled by his lack of action. Why not at least come to sit with them, to provide comfort, to be...a friend? Instead, Jesus stays where he is and Lazarus dies.
Finally Jesus decides to go to the grieving family, four days after Lazarus has been in the tomb. I can only imagine all the emotions that Mary and Martha must have felt when they are told that Jesus has arrived. "Why didn't you come? You could have done something! He was your friend. I thought you loved him. You didn't even come to say goodbye. What was so important that you couldn't leave it to come be with him?" Overwhelmed with grief and perhaps looking for someone to blame, they likely had conflicting emotions when they saw Jesus. In their hearts, they believe he is the Messiah. In their minds, they know he is worthy of worship. But at this moment, stricken with the realization that their brother is gone and Jesus could have done something about it, they're not sure if they should beat on his chest or fall at his feet.
Have you ever been there? Has there ever been a time in your life that you've prayed desperately for something, knowing in full-faith that Jesus is capable of intervening, and yet he didn't? Have you ever asked for a miracle and been left, seemingly, empty-handed? And you're left wondering why, and what now? Where do you go when the One who is supposed to provide comfort seems silent? What do you do when what you've said you believe is called into question and answers are no where to be found?
If you're wise, you do what Mary did. When she is told that Jesus has arrived, she runs to him, falls at his feet, pours out her heart, and weeps. She brings with her all of her disappointment and her broken heart. She doesn't first comb her hair or wipe her runny mascara. She just runs to him. When Jesus sees Mary weeping, verse 33 says that "he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." And as their tears mingle together, Mary is comforted by the fact that her Savior is also her friend. He is not far removed from her pain. He joins her in her grief.
But behind the tears, there is a twinkle in Jesus' eye...because he knows the rest of the story! He knows this momentary pain will usher in greater glory. He is about to blow their minds. Their story will be commemorated for all of history because of this awesome miracle, but they first had to walk through the grief. It had to be bleak. He needed everyone's attention. Jesus' glory is about to shine with ever increasing brightness against this dark backdrop of pain and suffering.
There was no limit to the rejoicing that took place when Lazarus got up out of his tomb and walked out! Jesus didn't want to just heal a fever. That could be explained away by the natural forces of nature. He wanted to make sure there would be no explaining this away. FOUR DAYS DEAD. That's really dead. That's "no-hope-for-reviving" kind of dead. That's when Jesus steps onto the scene and gives hope and life where there had been nothing but despair and death.
I don't know what impossible circumstance you have in your life right now. Maybe you're praying for a miracle, trusting that Jesus will come through. Perhaps he will answer just as you are hoping. But maybe, like Mary and Martha, you are hurting and confused and angry because Jesus didn't seem to show up at all. He could have done something and he didn't. Your situation is far-gone, four days dead. I want to encourage you today to run to him. Fall down at his feet and pour out your heart to him. Allow his tears to mingle with yours as you grieve together. But take a moment to look in his eyes. There may be a twinkle there that you had failed to notice and greater glory is on the way! Jesus never wastes a hurt.
Lord Jesus, help us to run to you in our pain. Help us to know that you are right here with us, offering inexpressible comfort and strength. May we praise you in the midst of our suffering, even if it is with tear-streaked faces. And may we always possess the hope that You have greater glory on Your mind!