We have a guest post from my amazing sister-friend Chantel! I love what she has to share with us. I pray it will serve as encouragement for you as you read it. Thanks for sharing with us all Chantel. This piece is a good’un. ❤
So this weekend just passed we celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and I have just been so inspired by Jesus’ life. What has been on my mind of recent is His humility to yield to the Father to the extent that He had to die on the cross. Jesus purely lived to do the will of the Father and for God’s name to be glorified.
For those of you that know Christ, I think of our lives as Christians… and how most of us are so desperate to be “used by God”, but do we recognise that being used by God doesn’t always look like what we think it will? When I think of being used by God, honestly, I imagine myself doing things I really love and the fun stuff. But what if being used by God and for His name to be glorified in my life, involves seasons and situations involving pain, disappointment, crying out in desperation or being still?
What if we recognised that being used by God is much less about us and more about God being exalted and sometimes God’s glory can come through the darkest situations?
What if we recognised that for you and others to see the glory of God we have to keep believing even if we feel like giving up?
I want us to look at the story of Lazarus.
John 11:1-44 (NIV)
11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 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.”5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem,19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father,I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.
So here we have two sisters Mary and Martha whose brother Lazarus has fallen ill. They let Jesus know and he says “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” [Verse 4]
Psalm 18:30 (NIV) tells us: As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.
Therefore I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary and Martha were thinking if Jesus has said that this sickness will not end in death then surely Lazarus won’t die? Jesus has been healing the sick all over the place, this can’t be too hard for Him to do…
[Verse 14 & 15]- So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Erm but Jesus what does this mean? Did you not say that this sickness will not end in death? Why is Lazarus dead?
Have you ever been in a situation where you were sure on what Jesus said but then what seems like the final outcome of the situation contradicts what He said?
Imagine Mary and Martha at that moment. The same Jesus that they trusted, and who healed others that were sick, couldn’t heal Lazarus?
Personally, a lot of doubt will enter my mind. In my own life I have been in a place where what I could see, contradicted what I believe God had said to me and I have doubted. I questioned whether I could trust God because He supposedly lied. But can God lie?
Numbers 23:19 (NIV)
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?
So now Jesus is making His way to where Lazarus is and he has been dead for four days. FOUR DAYS. People are around Mary and Martha comforting them and when Jesus meets with Martha He says “Your brother will rise again”– [Verse 23].
Excuse me? There can be no way Lazarus will rise again. He has been dead for four days…
However, I love what Martha said beforehand when she first saw Jesus, [Verse 21 &22] “If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
It’s so easy when things don’t go the way that you expect, to grow hostile towards God. Why did you allow this to happen? But you said Lord? However, could I suggest that Martha still had some hope? Most of us probably would not have even gone up to Jesus when He arrived but she still went. We sometimes respond by not praying because we don’t want to talk to God because we feel hurt. (I do recognise that Mary stayed at home also but reading in context Mary left as soon as Martha told her Jesus had come so perhaps she wasn’t aware beforehand).
So we fast-forward to verse 38 where Jesus, Mary, Martha and the Jews that comforted them are at the tomb where Lazarus laid.
Just before that Jesus asks to see where Lazarus had been laid. Verses 33 and 35 show us a side of our saviour that is important to remember during the troubled times.
33- When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
35- Jesus wept.
Jesus sees you in the midst of your pain. He empathises with you. Of course Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead but He doesn’t disregard the pain that Mary, Martha and those around them feel. God doesn’t disregard your pain. He knows He will see you through. He knows you will see His glory and others too yet still He will comfort you.
So Jesus asks for the stone to be taken away and they witness Jesus command Lazarus to come out of the tomb and he comes out… LAZARUS IS ALIVE? Yes Lazarus is alive.
Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead He says in verse 40, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
Just as Jesus said in verse 4- “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
So through this whole process what do we see? ‘It is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it’.
This takes me back to the point I made at the beginning. For God to be glorified sometimes the story has to take a turn for the worst. Yes it hurts. Yes it’s painful, but we live for God’s name to be glorified. Additionally, it’s not only for us to see the glory of God but for those around us too:
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
John 12: 17-18 (NIV)
Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.
Many people, because they had heard that he performed this sign went out to meet him.
Will you allow the Lord to use your suffering for His glory? For not only you to believe but for others to believe?
Daily, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
Romans 12:1 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship.
And sometimes that sacrifice requires you to sacrifice your comfort of knowing what will happen next. It’s interesting how when God tells us something regarding a situation, we can have our own idea of what it may look like in reality and how it will unfold but that isn’t always the case.
Mary and Martha didn’t know specifically what would happen next all they knew is what Jesus said. They could have lost all hope or maybe even did lose hope at some point but Jesus came through.
So the words I leave you with are these- If you believe, you WILL see the glory of God. So keep believing. Even if your circumstances say different, keep believing. Don’t be put off by what things may look like now, for it’s that very testimony that will bring many to Jesus.
Stay blessed loved ones.
To see more pieces by Chantel, find her own blog at: www.expressiveinfaith.wordpress.com