“Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
One of the great struggles of life is how to reconcile a loving God with the difficulties of life. Every day, all over the world, people are confronted with tragedies. Difficulties hit like a storm and wreak havoc on their lives. It is not until we find ourself facing one of these trying times, that we are undone by it. It is at that point, we begin to ask, “How could a loving God allow my brother to suffer like that?” or “If God loved me, He would not have taken him from me.”
There is no question we face difficulties, and the illness or loss of a loved one is one of the greatest trials we will ever face. However, these trials are not without purpose. Notice the response of Jesus to the situation His loved ones were facing,
“This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Death is not the ultimate purpose of life. We are not here to simply live, work, pay taxes and die. The trials of life have a purpose, and that purpose is the glory of God. One of the most freeing thoughts is realizing that our lives belong to God. He created us, redeemed us, and did so with a distinct purpose in mind. The things we face that are beyond our control, have been designed by God to bring Him glory. If we will stop in the midst of the tragedy, and seek the Lord for His purpose, we will find that our life, like that of Lazarus and his sisters, will be used for the glory of God. Later we read concerning him,
“Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.“
How cool is that! The hardship they faced led many to believe in Christ. We know the result of a person believing in Christ is that their sins are forever forgiven, God takes up residence in their lives, begins to transform them from the inside out, and gives them eternal life. There is no greater reward in life than to be used by God to positively effect someone’s eternity.
Together, let’s live for the glory of God, even in the midst of our difficulties. Life is short, eternity is forever.
Question for John 11
- Who is Lazarus related to? Read Luke 10:38-42, and Luke 7:36-50 to learn a little more about Lazarus’s sisters.
- How did Jesus feel about this family?
- Did Jesus immediately respond to the need? How long did Jesus wait until He left where he was? Once he arrives, how long has Lazarus been in the tomb?
- Read verse 21, 32, and 37. What was people’s reaction concerning Jesus timing?
- When Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again, does she understand what He means? Recall John 10:10. Now read Romans 6:4. Are there dead areas in your life that you have given up on? Present these to the Lord and ask Him to be the Resurrection to you in those areas.
- Even though Jesus was about to resurrect Lazarus (which would be joyful), He still felt very deeply about Lazarus’ death. What are some indications of how He felt? Is it wrong to be sad sometimes?
- Jesus prays out loud to His Father about Lazarus. But He did not do this to draw attention to Himself in a carnal way (Read Matt 6:5-6); He did it to model His relationship with the Father. Do you pray out loud when the situation calls for it (it will bring honor to God, and help people in their walk with Him)?
- Read verses 45-48. How did people respond to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead?
- Read verses 49-54. Caiaphas the High Priest says that it would be better if one man died for the people than if the whole nation died. What did he mean by that? God, honoring the office of high priest, was speaking prophetically through Caiaphas, and had a different meaning. What was that?