How we face adversity in this life tells us a lot about WHO we love and trust.
The most difficult question of the Christian life is: “If God really loves me, how can He let ‘this’ happen to me?” “This” for some of us might be a divorce, the death of a child, or a loved who gets cancer.
I once knew a high school student whose friend died in a car accident. He answered that question with this response: “If God really loves me and allows my best friend to die in a car crash, then I don’t want anything to do with this God.” My friend’s son turned away from God, never to return.
How we face adversity in this life tells us a lot about whom we love and trust.
Sometimes God allows our life, relationships, and health to not just go from bad to worse, but from bad to impossible. It’s during these most difficult times that we may know that God loves us, but deep down in our hearts we may struggle with really trusting Him. Sometimes, our perception of God’s slowness of lack of response to our pain or to our prayers is that He doesn’t care or He has abandoned us.
In John 11, the Apostle John tells us a story that shows how we’re to trust God in the midst of impossibly difficult situations in our life. In the story, Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead.
In the beginning of the story, Jesus gets word from Mary and Martha that their brother Lazarus is very 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.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” (John 11:4-7)
We discover that it’s because “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” that He decided to stay where He was at for two more days! The sisters probably began to wonder… “What’s going on? I thought Jesus loved us! He’s the Son of God, so why isn’t he coming to help?”
I don’t know about you, but if I was in Mary or Martha’s shoes and I got word that Jesus – who healed a countless number of people -- didn’t appear to show any urgency to come heal my dying brother, I’d be confused and hurt.
When our life doesn’t go according to plan, or our circumstances go from bad to worse, it’s natural to begin to wonder about what God is doing. This is true especially during those dark moments when we cry out to Him and He doesn’t fix our problem in the way or in the timing that we expect.
Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to “fix” their problem – to come quickly and heal Lazarus. But Jesus had other plans: to raise Lazarus from the dead and demonstrate God’s greater power and glory.
Jesus explained to his confused disciples why he decided not to go to Lazarus right away. “Lazarus is dead,and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” (v. 14-15)
When Jesus arrived at Mary and Martha’s house, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha came to Him and said, “Lord… if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” But Martha thought He was talking about the final resurrection of the dead.
Then Jesus said these startling words to her: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (v. 21, 23-26)
Jesus’ answer to us, as it was to Mary and Martha, is not to just fix our problems in our way and in our timing. Jesus often has a different – and better – agenda.
His answer to our life’s most difficult problems comes to us as first as a person: He offers us His presence. He asks that we trust in Him and in His timing, even when it doesn’t make sense. How?
When we believe in Him, and believe that His purposes and plan are bigger than our problems. It’s through our difficult circumstances that He wants to build our faith and our trust in Him to make the impossible, the possible.
It’s my prayer and hope that we’ll begin to truly experience what it means to have a personal, intimate relationship with the living God.