Thought I’d share some encouragement from my Bible Challenge notes a few weeks ago.
Do you know despair? Do you know shame? Do you know regret? Do you know what it’s like to say, “God, I did what you asked! I begged you for help! Why didn’t you show up?!! It all could have been so different!!”
If you are in that place right now, this is for you. Keep on keeping on.
The stench of the death of your hopes and dreams dying away is not a forever aroma. Don’t keep facing what you thought were your perfect ideas, struggling to breathe in the midst of the smoke of what God asks you to leave on the altar smoldering as an offering to him. Turn away and face Jesus again. There’s going to be more to your story. Trust him with the grave of all you hold dear. He is worthy… and He is still at work.
You already know this story, but read it again before I tell you how it hit me.
“And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave cloths: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. ”
Think about that. All the people there along with Mary and Martha were believers in the fact that Jesus was a miracle worker. Of course He could maintain things and keep things going that were already good. No one disputed that Lazarus wouldn’t have died had Jesus come. Healing would have been certain if Jesus had been there. But surely even he could do nothing after a body has been buried and decomposing for a couple of days. All that could be done now is to give up and wait for that final promise and rest in that…. but as for now, things could never be good again. Never.
I’ve felt that way so many times. I’m sure you have too. Many of you feeling it at a far deeper level than I have had to so far. When it would seem that all is lost and nothing is left but death and despair. Nothing but pain and heartache. Messy, fetal position on the bathroom floor, kind of pain.
But then Jesus…
Jesus reminds Mary, Martha, and all those present that he holds the key to resurrection. No restraints. Nothing is out of his capabilities… Never give up, just refocus. Not only can the situation still change even after all is lost according to all human reasoning, but if Jesus chooses to call life out it will be bigger, better, and more powerful than before.
Lazarus came out with all the evidence still attached of his previous circumstance. He didn’t walk out all cleaned up and in a new suit. He walked out of that tomb with evidence of the mess he was just in. Everyone knew what his state had been… then the focus was on the amazing thing Jesus did with his mess… not how Lazarus pulled up his bootstraps and got his act together and cleaned up the grave and got himself out of there looking better than before without anyone realizing how bad it really was. And Lazarus wasn’t the only one benefiting from how Jesus worked. All eyes were on the proceedings and many were changed from the one life Jesus allowed to be taken and buried. What a glorious witness of what Jesus is capable of! When all human hope is gone, never give up hope!
Many times things are just hard and life gets messy and stinky. We bury all the hard things and call them done deals. It’s over. There’s nothing anyone can do with decomposition and stench and lack of oxygen and blood for 4 days! And usually they stay buried and decomposing. But God gave us just enough examples of miracles throughout Scripture that He chose to perform that it makes me say, “Yeah, this looks super hopeless… but what about Lazarus? What if I wait patiently for God to show up and He calls life back into this tomorrow?! What if my situation is the next ‘lazarus’?” ……. It kind of makes me want to charge hell with a squirt gun!
Bring. It. On.
So you’re in a mess right now? Sin and stench, brokenness and strife is all your story right now??? What if God is just waiting 4 days before amazing everyone? If there is any hope given to the broken hearted and ungodly in Scripture, it is Lazarus’ resurrection. Somebody say THANK YOU JESUS!!!
We can ask in the midst of the hardship, how can this possibly bring glory to God? How can grave clothes and embalming, tombs and weeping possibly be the best choice to bring God glory??? But doesn’t Lazarus’ grave clothes and stink from death make the end result so much more glorious?! Can there be any doubt that this was a far more powerful story than the simple healing of a sick man?!
Wait patiently, friend…. God is still at work. All hope is not lost. He is good. He is worthy.