Saturday, April 05, 2014

An old conundrum

TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 11:17-37

TO CHEW ON: "And some of them said, 'Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?' " John 11:37

For some of the Jews of Jesus' day, He couldn't do anything right. When He healed, they criticized Him because it was on the wrong day (Mark 3:1-5) or preceded by controversial pronouncement like saying sins were forgiven (gasp!) and then giving a physical healing (Mark 2:1-12). Here they grumbled because He didn't heal.

What bothers me about the Jews' reaction to Jesus is that I have heard echoes of it in my own heart. Perhaps you have too. We question, why would God allow people to go through pain and suffering when He has the power to prevent or stop it?

Jesus here seemed to anticipate this objection. He spoke to it twice. Earlier when He first got word of Lazarus' sickness, He said, " ' This sickness is … for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it' " John 11:4. And again He said to His disciples, " ' I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe' " - John 11:15.

So Jesus alerted His disciples to the fact that God had a purpose in Lazarus' sickness and temporary death. It turned out to bring glory to God through Lazarus coming to life again and to provide a bedrock reason for faith in Him—to the sisters, His disciples, indeed, all who saw it and heard about it. But that purpose didn't preclude days of grief, pain, and questioning for the disciples and especially Mary and Martha.

It's wonderful to know that God can use even the ugly, hard, bad, hurtful stuff in our lives in this way. Though we pray for the outcome that we would love to see, we can trust that if our prayers aren't answered the way we hoped, God has His reasons for working things out the way they do. His reasons are bigger than our comfort, ease and sense of well-being. For us too these puzzling trials can serve His glory while they strengthen our faith—if we let them.

PRAYER: Dear God, please strengthen my faith in Your coequal love and power when I'm in the middle of hard circumstances. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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