An amazing story of life, suffering death and disappointment took place that the apostle John records. He tells us that a man named Lazarus, who was a friend of Jesus, was sick. He was so sick that he died. His sisters got word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, but Jesus didn’t come right away. In fact, scripture tells us that he purposely delayed going to his friends for two days (John 11:6).
Have you ever felt that God has delayed an answer to your problem?
That’s fair but there may be a reason that you are not aware of. In the case of Lazarus, there were easy answers for his sisters not only to his sickness and death but also to why Jesus didn’t run to help immediately.
Some have had long standing troubles that seem to have no end. Like children that say, “are we there yet?” Some of us struggle with delays and often ask the “why” question because we haven’t experienced God’s help as of yet.
At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus, repeated himself and said, “if you believe, you will see the glory of God”. This word that we translate “glory” is the Greek word doxa which means “brightness and magnificence”. In other words, the glory of God is so powerful that it makes our troubles pale. Jesus wanted Mary, Martha (the sisters of Lazarus), the mourners and us to know that God is greater than death and even decomposition!
The best way to illustrate the glory of God is to go outside on a sunny day and try to look at the sun in all it’s brilliance. We can’t.
If you hold any light up in comparison to the sun, it pales to the doxa of the sun. Picture a candle as your trouble and see the sun as God’s glory, his doxa.
When we come to realize that the glory of God is far greater than the glory of problems, we can join with the Psalmist when he wrote, “I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken. So many enemies against one man— all of them trying to kill me. To them I’m just a broken-down wall or a tottering fence. They plan to topple me from my high position. They delight in telling lies about me. They praise me to my face but curse me in their hearts. Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:1-6)
God is greater than cancer. He’s greater than poverty. He’s greater than abandonment but we must also believe that his timing is wisest. He wants us to know that know matter how long or how difficult the problem has been, his doxa out shines all that we may face. His glory is our easy answer.
We all pray for the end of pain, but few allow it to leave through the power of God. Some surprisingly hang on to pain caused by unforgiveness or by doubting the love of God. Others don’t want to feel the pain, so they’ve created so many layers in their lives to protect them from the pain. They have become hard, crusty, unfeeling and not open to God. His way is for us to let it go by forgiving others and by totally trusting that he will show his glory even in our pain.
Corrie Ten Boom wrote, “The suffering of today cannot be compared with the glory of what is to come. It is a comfort, but meanwhile there is that certainty today, given to us by the Lord, not a spirit of fear but a spirit of love, strength, and sensibility. Because of the Holy Spirit you need not fear, even though mountains fall into the sea. Be filled with God’s Spirit, who shows you that God doesn’t have problems, only plans. There never is any panic in heaven. God is faithful; His plans do not fail” .
Have you ever asked questions like, “what are you doing God? Are you busy helping others? What are you trying to show me?”
Jesus was not fearful in delaying his coming to Lazarus and he is not intimidated by our frustrations. There is no one that he would not come to and show his glory. It’s truly sad for people to choose to stay sick or live in unforgiveness. He is willing to let trouble trouble us until we cry out to him in belief and trust.
Joseph was rejected by his very own family. Maybe you too understand that kind of pain, but the amazing reality is that Joseph forgave his brothers and did not hold a grudge. After many years Joseph became an authority over his brothers. He could have crushed them with anger and a self-righteous attitude. “They have it coming.”
Surprisingly Joseph said, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position, so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So, he reassured them by speaking kindly to them” (Genesis 50:19-21).
We want you to know that no matter how bad your pain has been or currently is, God has a plan for your life and he really does care for you.
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus that the one “whom You love is sick” (John 11:3). The word they used for love was phileo which is a friendship kind of love. Jesus was a friend of Lazarus, Mary and Martha but he wanted Martha to know he was more than a buddy. He was asking Martha, “do you believe I am more than a friend? Do you believe who I am? Do you believe I agape you? That means, his love is 100% giving of himself. That’s the kind of love that does not change no matter what. It’s the kind of love that sees you through all the brokenness of this world and it is a kind of love that gives the believer hope that others just don’t have.
Jesus not only weeps when we experience pain, he truly loves us so when we ask “who is Jesus” we have the answer that takes us past the temporary troubles. Remember, Jesus was not just a friend to Lazarus, Mary and Martha. He agaped them! And the good news is that Jesus also has agape for you too! When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! God agaped the world (John 3:16)!
God is infinitely greater than our problems. You may argue that pain is greater, but the fact is that the creator has no limit. He freely offers life and health to all who put their trust in him. Like Mary and Martha, we need to see that God loves us even though we experience trouble.
The friends and family of Bruce Merz, who we spoke of earlier, can tell you about the glory of God in the face of a horrible illness. You see, Bruce lay dying.
His wife, Lara, wrote, “the doctor told me they found necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease) in his leg and that the surgeon had cut his leg open from behind his knee on the back of his left leg up to his bottom” . A perfectly healthy young man with a wife and children had become very ill.
“The nurse told me that they had struggled to keep Bruce alive all night. Apparently, his blood pressure plummeted rapidly even on the meds. They had added another medication and upped them both to nearly the highest doses they can give, and he just hung on with a minimal blood pressure. I was told that he nearly flatlined twice that night because he had no blood pressure on his own. His body was going into full septic shock. His kidneys were getting worse. His blood was poisoned, and because the blood flows everywhere through the body his whole system had begun to shut down” wrote Lara. Bruce was quickly dying.
Their story deserves to be mentioned in length since it is a story showing the glory of God. Since Bruce was not aware of what was happening, Lara wrote, “there were at least two separate prayer meetings for Bruce happening at people’s homes. I later found out that many other people in groups and churches around the world were also meeting to pray for Bruce. Word of his condition was spreading rapidly via social media. I had no idea how rapidly” . Incidentally, the church that I pastor also joined in prayer directed for Bruce’s healing and we did not know him at the time, but we knew the God who is greater than flesh-eating disease.
Lara spent many hours in the ICU waiting room with many of Bruce’s friends. His conditioned worsened as his kidneys failed which led to him gaining 78 pounds in three days. The situation was bleak but Lara shares what amazingly happened.
“Though the room had chipped salmon-cloured walls and worn mismatched chairs from the nineties, it had been transformed from a cold, lonely, isolated area to a place filled 24 hours a day with people praying, singing softly, or sipping coffee-and most importantly, laughing. I cannot even express how amazing laughter is in a time like this. It might seem foreign or unloving to people reading this, but you must remember that the Lord was carrying me and our family through this time. The atmosphere in that place held such peace and joy that a nurse asked one of my friends, “Do you think Lara realizes how serious this situation is?” Yes, I realized, and at times I almost despaired, especially alone at night, but I also had a sense of love, joy, and peace that could only come from a supernatural download from God. To observers, the circumstances certainly didn’t warrant it” .
Even though Bruce was so sick with six potentially fatal conditions all occurring at the same time, the truth that God is greater than his sickness was equally a reality. God did not change because of the situation and God has not change just because you have experienced pain. His glory out shines your problem no matter what it is.
In the middle of her ordeal Lara’s young son said, “we don’t hass to be afraid, Mommy. We don’t hass to be afraid because Jesus is wis us! Jesus is wis us, Mommy, Jesus is wis us!!” Friend, know that God is greater than your problem and that is glory is your easy answer right now.
In the middle of their grief Mary and Martha didn’t need to be afraid instead they needed to know the glory of God because Jesus was with them. Oh, he may have delayed so that they would know, in a greater way, just who he is but the creator and sustainer of life itself is not limited by his physical presence at a certain time. Death, the final enemy of life, is not as powerful as God is.
The key is to invite Jesus into your trouble and trust that he is greater. His glory out shines the darkness of your problem no matter how dire things look because he truly agape’s you. No matter what is happening in your life, the glory of God is infinitely greater than the trouble and pain you are experiencing. Should he delay coming to your rescue let faith in him increase and fear decrease. In those waiting periods of time, know that pain is not your enemy. It certainly indicates that something is wrong but You can find comfort in the middle of your pain as you trust the glory of God will obliterate the problem.
The Psalmist wrote, “All you who fear (respect him more than anything including troubles) the LORD, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield.” (Psalm 115:11 NLT)
There is nothing so difficult, so painful, so foreboding that can overcome the loving power of God to help anyone who simply puts their trust in him.
Song – Lord I Run To You by Alvin Slaughter