How The Pain Makes Sense

Jesus resurrected Lazarus

I WOULD LIKE TO use the story about Jesus raising Lazarus from his grave as an example of why I struggle to trust Jesus. 


Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, sent word to Jesus to come quickly and save their dying brother. 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.John 11:4-6  


Of course Lazarus died, deader than a doornail, and was in his grave four days by the time Jesus arrived. 


Mary and Martha were close enough to Jesus to hear the stories about people being healed, even without being in the presence of the sick. If I was Mary or Martha and Jesus truly loved me, I would be devastated when my friend with supernatural powers failed me. 


Jesus is no liar, but in real time, this is the kind of stuff that can completely undo my faith. 


And what about his disciples? These guys weren’t superheroes like Jesus. They didn’t know the end of the story. If Jesus said Lazarus’ illness does not lead to death, what were they to think about Jesus when he tells them they’re going back to Lazarus’ home because he died?


And to top it off, don’t you think their minds must have been swirling in circles when Jesus tells them, “And for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” John 11:14-15


In real time, this entire series of events seems difficult for everyone involved. Maybe Jesus wept because he snatched Lazarus from his mansion in heaven, after just settling in and meeting the neighbors.

I can imagine him apologizing to his good friend, and saying: Sorry, dude. Don’t be mad, but I need you back to prove to these people I have power over death. 


If I had been Martha, I would not have run out to meet Jesus to say I know he has power over death if only he will use it to bring my brother back. That thought would not occur to me since Lazarus’ body was already stinking.

Instead, I would have had some choice words for Jesus. Of course, I would be eating those words in a few minutes. 


Because I do not know the future. 


No, I would not look to Jesus to solve my problems. With the breadwinner gone, and my feelings hurt, I would have already sold every possession Lazarus owned and been on several job interviews. I know I would have alienated myself from my crying sister, who once sat at Jesus’ feet, doing nothing to help with all the company in the house.


All the while, I would be grumbling and mumbling. Doesn’t he care about me? Don’t I matter? 


I wouldn’t think to pray after the fact, because that would seem like a waste of time. I would only remember what my father once told me, advice that is embedded in “The Gospel According to Me”, for times of loss and devastation. “Just suck it up and move on.”

I would take charge of my life and circumstances and trust another adage that seems to feel better than leaning and waiting on Jesus, which says: If it is to be, it is up to me. 


After four days, I may have made some decisions I could not undo, and of course, I would feel stupid for not having the kind of faith Mary had. I would have watched the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection and thought how much easier this all would have been if Jesus had just let me in on his plans. Save the drama and spare us so much pain. 


Finally, I imagine that while we would all be in the house, asking my poor brother a million questions about life after death, and the disciples would be laughing, as they told us they were mystified about how Jesus said he was glad his good buddy had died, I would wonder why in the world Jesus would choose my family to show the depth of his power. 


Feeling ashamed and humiliated because everyone, including Jesus, would know the awful things I said about him the past week, I would then learn the wisdom of God when he created the concept of the gathering of his followers. 


For I imagine, if this had been my story in real time, Peter may have pulled me aside to confess his own shame and humiliation the time he didn’t trust Jesus. It was when he accused Jesus of not caring about them one day when they were facing death during a storm on the sea.   

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God… 

through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 

But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Timothy 1:8-12

John 11:1-38,Mark 9:17,20-29,Matthew 26:75

As always, it is my intent and hope that my words may encourage you wherever you are in your journey.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below or go to the group tab above to share your own experience. It only takes a minute of your time to register (and you can be anonymous), and your words may help others.

If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.--Jesus (Mark 4:23)



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