Anyone Else Ready for some Hindsight? #2020
I have found myself recently going back and reading the story of Lazarus in the Bible. I know, weird, right?!? That’s a weird one to get hung up on.
So, for those of you unfamiliar with the story, here’s a short version (or not so short… because let’s be honest… I have a whole lot of words).
Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha and they were close friends of Jesus. Lazarus became deathly sick. And when a loved one becomes deathly sick you call in all the favors you can, right? So obviously, when you know a miracle worker, you call him. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, telling him, “The one you love is sick.” They knew he healed people all the time, so I can only imagine that they had no doubt that he would immediately come and heal their brother.
Why wouldn’t he? He loved them.
When Jesus got word of this, the Bible tells us that he says, “This sickness will not end in death.” I can’t help but wonder if they all just stopped listening right there. That’s all I would need to hear. You said he wouldn’t die. Sounds good to me. Let’s get this show on the road.
But… what Jesus goes on to say is, “It is for God’s glory. So that God’s Son will receive glory because of it.” Hmmmm. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? So many times in life I don’t understand things until I look back and can see how all the pieces came together.
Hindsight. Hindsight, friends. I hate it and love it all at the same time.
I would guess that this statement right here was one of those moments for them. They heard it, but you said my brother was going to live so... yeah, go ahead keep talking, I’ll be back here on the whole “my brother is going to live” thing until you’re done.
In John 11, verse 5 says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” And then verse 6 says, “So, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.”
YOU GUYS!!! WHAT THE…??? (I have lots of words I'd like to insert here. I'll refrain. You're welcome.)
How many of us if we were to get a call that our loved one was dying would stay where we are for two more days? Ummm... No one. Well, no one with a heart anyway. Apparently, there was this whole ‘people in the town where Lazarus lived wanted Jesus dead,’ but still, we would all try to immediately go to our loved one, right? I mean even with COVID, we still take the chance and go to our loved ones. It's what we do for those we love.
But Jesus stayed. And Lazarus died.
And by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Ummm…. Gross. A dead body in a tomb for four days. No. Thank. You.
Mary and Martha both come to meet Jesus at separate times, and both said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Yep. Pretty sure that would have been my response.
When Mary asked Jesus this question, she fell at his feet and wept. And this would have been my response too. I’m pretty good at the whole crying thing these days.
It is here that we read that Jesus went to see where Lazarus was buried…. And we find the verse that everyone has memorized….
“Jesus wept.” (remember these two words… I have thoughts on this!)
Now, the crowd is quick to point out, “He opened the eyes of the blind man. Couldn’t he have kept this man from dying?” And let me just raise my hand here too, folks. I would have gladly led this group chant on this day with this crowd. Have you ever wondered how you would react in a situation like this? Anytime, you’ve asked God for something and it doesn’t turn out the way you want, what’s your response? I don’t know about you, but mine is that whole, “Why?” thing. I know God can do the impossible, I know he is in control, and so when things don’t go the way I think they should, I’m pretty quick to accuse and ask why. I’m pretty sure…. Actually, scratch that… I know I would have been the adult version of a two-year-old throwing a tantrum for not getting their way in this scenario. (Insert conviction here).
Jesus went to the tomb and told them to take away the stone. Of course, the sensible females quickly questioned his sanity, reminding him.... He’s been in there for four days… IT WAS GOING TO SMELL. BAD.
Jesus simply says, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?”
They took the stone away. And Jesus has a nice little conversation with God. “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me. But I said this outloud for the benefit of the people standing here. I said it so they will believe that you sent me.” And then in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
AND HE DID!
I’m sure many of you would agree with me that life is a struggle right now, for oh so many reasons. This latest round of shutdowns and the impending feeling that more is coming is just the icing on the cake for me. Currently, every aspect of my life at the moment is filled with uncertainty and questions. And with each turn, when I think that I am going to get some clarity and answers and I just end up with more questions.
You guys, I like control, and plans, and knowing what to expect. And I have absolutely none of that right now. So why do I keep rereading Lazarus?
First, I have been constantly reminded that upon hearing of Lazarus’s sickness and death, Jesus did not respond. We are told he loved him and his sisters, but he didn’t respond. He allowed him to die. FOR FOUR DAYS! Jesus healed people all the time. He could have gone to him immediately and healed him. He could have healed him from far away. BUT HE DIDN’T. I don't know about you, but those four days of refusal and silence would have felt a lot like rejection. They all knew he could heal him. And yet, he didn’t.
And then I’m reminded that if he had healed him, he would have just been doing what they had all seen him do over and over again. Not that healing people wasn’t a big deal, but by allowing Lazarus to die and be dead for four days and then bringing him back to life, Jesus’ power and glory were seen in ways they had never been seen before. The silence and wait wasn’t rejection, but an opportunity to see more of God.
I’m about a month and a half into a lot of struggles and uncertainty and questions. Actually, you know what, let's just summarize 2020 as this. Not gonna lie, I feel like I’m in the dead phase of this story. It feels like a whole lot of rejection, uncertainty and being forgotten right now. It is constantly the cry of my heart that the Lord is working out the details in a way that only He can and in a way that will bring him glory. And while I have no doubt that he is, right now, I have absolutely no idea what that looks like or what the future holds. Thus, the dead phase.
The second thing that keeps me rereading this whole Lazarus thing right now are those two words…. JESUS WEPT.
Friends, Jesus knew that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew that the people would rejoice. He knew that they would no longer be sad. But when Jesus saw his friends weeping, He was deeply moved. He was sad and troubled. He wept with them. And I can’t even think about this without tears coming to my eyes.
Because He weeps with me too.
In my struggle, in my uncertainty, in my questions, my Savior, even though he knows how it’s going to end, even though he knows what's on the next page in the book, in this moment, in this trial, he is weeping with me. My faith feels pretty small at the moment. But the truth is... I am not alone. I am not forgotten. And God is not doing nothing.
But seriously. I’m ready for some hindsight in this already! #2020lifelessons
In the end, please don’t take my word for it. I recommend you read it for yourself: John 11:1-44