Beautiful - Hurts, Burdens and Problems
So often in life we have those hard times we go through…you know the ones we wished never existed? The ones that sometimes make us say, “I hate life…”, “Why does life have to be so unfair?”, “Where is God??”
And to be honest, sometimes I ask the last question this way: “Where are you God? I mean, I know You’re here…but where?? I just need to see you!”
In fact, Jesus was faced with this situation when a woman named Martha had a brother who died. She approached Jesus and, looking at him, said, “Lord…if you had been here, my brother would not have died…” (John 11: 21)
And I’m sure many of you have been in situations similar to Martha, where you have to say the same thing… Maybe it’s something easy to identify – maybe your family is going through a really hard time because of the economy – and it scares you – because you know this may somehow effect your college situation. Or maybe it’s more similar to Martha’s sitch - maybe your brother died, or your mom or dad or sister. Or maybe they’re dying…and going through pain in the process. Let’s switch gears: maybe it’s you. Maybe you’re in physical pain. Emotional pain. You’re going through such significant emotional pain that you even call yourself a shipwreck…and you’re so fragile that you’re like a glass of water filled to the top – if anybody says or does the wrong thing you just spill over and explode. Maybe you’ve been depressed…and you’re thinking, “Lord…if only you were here…everything would be fine. Where are you???!”
You have a burden on your shoulders that you’ve wanted to be taken care of for a heck of a long time…and maybe, like me, you’re getting weary and tired. You at points feel drained. You say, “Lord…if only you were here…”
Well, to understand why Jesus had not been there, we have to rewind the story a little bit. This takes us back to the beginning of John 11.
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “LORD, the one you love is sick.” 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.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. John 11:1-6
Now why would Jesus wait two more days?? The only reason Jesus would stay where he was for two more days was because he knew it would bring more glory to God when he did this. He knew it would bring a better outcome! This is a very important point we must always remember: God’s will is always going to be better than ours. And in this case…Jesus actually waited until Lazarus died before he started heading his way – and we’re about to find out why.
So we continue in verses 14-15, just after Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus had died (this was now 2 days after Jesus had gotten the news about Lazarus being sick). After telling the disciples that they were going to start heading for Judea (where Mary, Martha and the deceased Lazarus were), Jesus “then…told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’”
Jesus said he was glad he wasn’t there. Isn’t that interesting? Why was he glad?
He was glad because he was going to show Mary and Martha something that was so much more insane than healing a sick person. He was going to teach the disciples his power and authority from God in a way more intense than healing somebody…he was going to bring life to a dead man – he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead.
And he did.
“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’”
If Jesus had not waited two days…this beautiful miracle would never have happened. Granted, the people did go through emotional pain and heartache for those two days, but the joy in the end was so beautiful that it completely voided the pain.
You. Me. Your family. Your friends. Strangers. This teaches us all to remember: We are sometimes allowed to be in low times so that in the end God can really be glorified! Raising a man from the dead had so much more of an impact on the people standing around than healing him would have. So we see that Christ allowed this “bad” thing to happen because he saw a way that it could end beautifully.
God spoke to the apostle Paul when the apostle was going through a hard time. God spoke, saying, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)
So what does this all mean to you? Maybe God had more in store for you and others (and Him) when he allowed your loved one to go through a hard time or even die…maybe he knew it would be so beautiful because in the end it would raise someone from the dead: you. Maybe your loved one’s death showed you God and His power. Maybe you saw Christ as a result…
Because He says, “for my power is made perfect in weakness."
So, I leave you with this: right before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (which is where many of you are in the same season of life – right before God shows His power) he said to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” This is significant, because it’s not the way many of us try to make it – “If I see the glory of God, I will believe.” No, he said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
And he says that to you. ________, if you believe, you will see the glory of God.
It all starts with believing in Jesus Christ. Only he had the ability to take your sins upon himself and die with them – because he was and is God’s perfect Son – and only God had the ability to raise him from the dead – signifying the same will happen to us when we die to ourselves (give him Lordship) and trust in him and his salvation (I encourage you to read Ephesians 1 & 2). “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
For God so loved you that he gave his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, that if you believe in him you will not perish. (John 3:16 personalized). He wants you to have Life! Eternal life! Not eternal death!
He loves you. He wants to be with you. He sees your heartache. In fact, the story we just went over above was the one where “Jesus wept.” He saw Mary crying…and it made him hurt too. So know that it’s okay to cry…to mourn for the death of a loved one or to cry about a situation that is really hurting you – and know that he’s crying with you. Know that he cares when you hurt. And He’s saying, “Here I am – believe in me – follow me - let me set you free! I want to be with you! I am the Way, the Truth and the Life! No one gets to the Father except through me.” Ask him to be your LORD and Savior. He is Jesus Christ.
If you have any questions about how to start a relationship (and continue it) with Jesus Christ, then please just start talking to him. Pray. Prayer is simply communicating with him. Explain how you feel. If you would like, I would also love to talk with you about it and try to answer any questions you may have. If you would like to talk with me, Message me here on Facebook, or text message or call me at 405-315-4837.
I love you. And know this: God does too. He’s standing at the door waiting for you to open it.
And I hope you can see now that God can work through difficult times, in a way we can’t comprehend at first, for the better. These situations can actually become beautiful.
*Discussion questions: What hard times have you gone through? And how has God shown you His power through them? What hard times are you still going through? We would love to pray for you and with you. And always remember:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
What are your thoughts/stories in response to the discussion questions?