Have you ever prayed about or struggled through something for so long, you start to wonder if it’s ever going to get any better? I’ve been going over John 11-12 the past couple weeks, and while I’ve read through it before, the way Jesus handled Lazarus’ sickness and death through His love caught me by surprise this time. Jesus’ response was different from what some of us may have expected, but the result was amazing:
“It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’ But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” – John 11:2-6 (NASB)
“Jesus loved… So when He heard… He then stayed.” Wait, what? Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus… But Jesus waited two days before traveling to where the dying Lazarus was. The one whom he loved was dying, but Jesus knew there was more to the story than the sickness. Jesus knew a victory unlike anything they dared to believe was coming.
That is so different from society’s definition of love. Society tells us that if someone loves us, they’ll give us what we want, when we want it, even if it’s not what’s best for the situation… Sounds kind of messed up when it’s said like that, huh?
So many have become convinced of it, though. How many relationships (of any kind) are burdened or even broken because both people are expecting the other to bow to their every whim and do things their way, in their timing? How many times is one person unwilling to be patient with the other and eventually the tension becomes too much?
Or, how many times is our relationship with God strained because we think to ourselves: “If God really loved me, He would give me victory in this area now.” Meanwhile, God sees a path that has been intentionally designed to bring you to a victory that is so much more than what you even know to dream right now. His victories blow through our boundaries into a place where walls have fallen, wounds have healed, and genuine love and communion can thrive… But there are more steps to that kind of victory than the kinds we’re used to.
We don’t always understand the process, but I thought it was cool to read just a few verses later how the disciples didn’t either – And Jesus was patient with them:
“This He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.’ The disciples then said to Him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.’” – John 11:11-15 (NASB)
Y’know what was even cooler about this story? When Lazarus was brought back to life, the victory didn’t end with him and his sisters. As you keep reading, John records that many other people believed in Jesus too because of what they had seen:
“Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.” – John 11:45 (NASB)
“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.” – John 12:9-11 (NASB)
“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 12:17-19 (NASB)
Do you think those people would still have believed if Jesus healed Lazarus the way Martha, Mary, and the disciples thought He should? Would they have still believed if what Jesus did lingered closely along the borders of what they could understand? The delay in Lazarus’ healing – to the point where it looked like victory was impossible – wasn’t what Martha, Mary, and the disciples had in mind… But Lazarus rose again and people’s lives were changed through his incredible testimony of God’s power in his life.
Honestly guys, it’s been kind of overwhelming me the past few months just how completely God wants to heal us. There are things I beat my head against for years trying to fix myself that He’s now moving so effortlessly. I hear myself talking now, and I’m amazed because for the first time in years I’m starting to sound like myself again. There’s still work to do, but that’s part of the fun of life and trusting God through it – It’s a journey.
I am so thankful God saw a broken, beat up young woman who wanted to give up, yet at the same time saw a precious heart who was going to learn to live again. I’m so thankful He always saw through those areas of me that had hardened out of self-protection and yet knew the whole time He was going to be able to soften and heal them. I’m so thankful He was patient with me when I freaked out as He tried to move things or when I struggled to understand along the way.
But you know what? I’m also thankful He waited. I’m thankful for those few more moments of pain that have made the rest of this journey all the more complete. I’m so thankful He knew me and chose to heal gently, taking the long way around. The God we serve doesn’t just take the sick or the not-so-great and sprinkle in some improvements. The God we serve takes the dead and dying and revives them back to vibrant life. And that’s something you can’t keep quiet about.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NASB)
“Mighty” can sound scary if it’s describing someone you don’t trust. But if it’s used to describe someone who loves you dearly, it can be one of the most comforting things in the world. He molds us so perfectly.
If you’re struggling with a delayed victory now, be at peace. God loves you so much, He chose to die for you rather than live without you. Ask Him to guide you. Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you too. You can rest here. You were never expected to fix yourself, force your victory, or earn your way to God’s rest. He loves you and invites you to draw near to Him, so He can bring about your victory – complete and lacking nothing, deeper than what society tries to promise you.
Let your weary heart rest. Victory is on its way.
And if you’re wanting some music for the journey, Highlands (Song of Ascent) by Hillsong UNITED is a beautiful one that kinda goes with this theme. (I haven’t been able to stop listening since I heard it yesterday ^_^)
Here’s to the journey!
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” – 1 Peter 5:10 (NASB)
“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)