I Am the Resurrection and the Life | John 11

Welcome to Real Life. It (real life) is full of disappointments.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Lazarus was ill, seriously so. His sisters, Mary and Martha, sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” They fully expected Jesus to come and heal their brother. For, Jesus was more than their Lord. He was their friend.

But, Jesus did not come—immediately. He delayed two days. And, Lazarus died.

When Jesus finally arrived, the sisters’ greetings are heavy with disappointment. "If only you had been here…"

I've felt their disappointment—keenly: when my first husband left and never returned, while drowning in postpartum depression, when my father-in-law lay ill 18 years, when my mom lost her legs, when my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. Lord, if only you had been here. These things would not have happened. Life would be good, as it should be. I know you, Lord. I am your follower and your friend. Why didn't you come and answer my prayers?

Jesus’ response to Martha fills me with hope.
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV)
Sebastiano del Piombo, The Raising of Lazarus
When he arrives at the tomb where Lazarus has laid dead four days, Jesus weeps. Our God is not distant, unfeeling. He is moved by our pain, the pain that sin brought into this world. He calls, “Lazarus, come out!” To the amazement of those present, the once dead man comes forth, linen grave clothes dangling. Hallelujah! (Oh, to have been there.)

Jesus told Martha, “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” She believed. She saw the glory. Her disappointment overwhelmed by joy.

Why did Jesus delay and allow Lazarus to die? He held a greater purpose. The town of Bethany is near Jerusalem and a great number of Jews were present. They were deeply divided over Jesus—was he Messiah or heretic? This resurrection miracle became a defining moment. No one had ever raised the dead. It was irrefutable proof of his deity. Many Jews believed. However, others refused to believe and ran to notify the authorities. After this miracle, the religious leaders so feared that “everyone will believe in Jesus,” they called for his death. (This, too, was God’s plan. For, Jesus came to die for our sins.[1]) They even planned to kill Lazarus, since he was living proof that Christ held power over death.[2]

Could Jesus have a greater purpose in my disappointments? They certainly have been defining moments. Would I walk away from Christ disillusioned? Or, would I press in deeper to better understand my God, his heart, his ways? I've pressed in. And (unworthy as I am), I've glimpsed His glory. My disappointment overwhelmed by joy.

One day, I will leave this world of disappointment behind forever. I will dwell in the glory of God!

Dearest Lord, I believe. You are the resurrection and the life.
I may not always understand, but I trust you. 

Take it further …
  • Disappointment serves as a poignant reminder: This world is broken by sin. It's not heaven. It's not my home. If all my hope is in this sad world, I will inevitably be disappointed.
  • "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither." –C. S. Lewis
  • "All I know is I'm not home yet, this is not where I belong..." song by Building 429.
  • The Good and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows by James Bryan Smith.
[1] Matthew 1:21 and 20:28
[2] John 12:10

IMAGE: The Raising of Lazarus by Sebastiano del Piombo - National Gallery collection (NG1), London; Public Domain

Comments

  1. Hi, Peggy.

    Although going to prison for three years shortly after being saved by the grace of Christ, I have never endured many of the struggles you mention. But one thing I did learn in prison: God does according to His purposes rather than mine.

    I did not lose my wife nor children nor even most of the blessings God provided long before I knew him. But during my time of separation from family, that old lier Satan showed up daily in my cell. He threatened to take my wife, my home, and all else I held dear. So I do understand the struggle.

    I'm glad that folks like you and I and all the others are kept by a power much greater than our reasoning, lost hopes or fears. I am glad that God does indeed use the hard times to make us into more than we sometimes seem capable of becoming.

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    1. Beautifully said, RM. God is holding me/us. His will is good. He uses, even the hard things, for our ultimate good. He loves us so dearly! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  2. I think my pastor had a good point this past week. It is our mistaken belief that God wants our happiness that leads us to question God in those difficult times. God isn't working out our happiness in this life. He is working out His purposes for eternity. That will bring everlasting joy.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sean. This is another excellent point. We are so self-focused, so much about our "pursuit of happiness." God has a much bigger picture in mind. God is good, and is working for the ultimate good, even when we don't understand. We can trust Him. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

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