When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He did it for His Father–and what is done for God benefits and blesses many. It wasn’t just for Lazarus (we could argue that Lazarus preferred his eternal dwelling to this earthly one). It wasn’t just for Martha and Mary. Looking ahead we see this:
“The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus….
“So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him. For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are not doing any good; look, the world has gone after Him.” (John 12:9-11, 17-19)
When we are in the midst of pain and suffering, we only see the immediate, present difficulty. The disciples questioned Jesus’ delay in going to Lazarus. Thomas, ever the optimist, said, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16).
Martha and Mary said, ““Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21, 32).
“Where are You?” “What are You waiting for?” “Do You see me?”
These are our questions–and they are legitimate. They are biblical. They are normal.
In His grace, with knowledge of all things, Jesus says, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11: 15).
Jesus saw not only the immediate pain and sorrow–in fact, He himself was overwhelmed by it and wept–but He knew the outcome. He saw the fruit it would bear in the lives of many. He knew how the outcome would reveal the hearts of men. He had a bigger plan and purpose than anyone else saw in the moment. And perhaps the greatest sufferer of all was Lazarus. Not only did he suffer physical illness, he was removed from earthly existence and brought back again–for the glory of God and the conversion of many.
Seeing the big picture–beyond the suffering, loss, and unknown–gives us hope. And with hope, God provides comfort, courage and endurance.
God may or may not change an abusive heart and behavior. He may or may not change the circumstances. But as He changes us and brings us through pain, loss and suffering, He reveals His might and grace to a watching world, a watching family, a watching church, putting your life on display. God may use the death of your dreams to bring many to belief and faith in Him. After all, He, and He alone, is the resurrection and the life.
Today, be blessed in trusting God; in obeying Him; in walking by faith. Fruit and harvest are long-tern results. You may not see or experience it in this moment, but God is faithful.
“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24)