Do you ever wonder why God does some of the things He does? Or doesn’t do other things?
Do you ever ask, “Why God?” or “God, where are You?”
Let’s be honest, we don’t have God figured out. And never will. In fact, in Isaiah 55:8-9, God says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
This is His universe. It’s His story. He’s under no obligation to explain Himself to us.
Sometimes that can make life painful or confusing, especially when our prayers go unanswered. We pray for things that mean a lot to us, but nothing happens. At least not anything we can see. It can feel like God isn’t listening or if He is listening that He doesn’t care.
In John 11, I believe God pulls back the curtain and lets us see what He’s up to during those times when life seems to be falling apart and He doesn’t seem to be showing up.
Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, is sick. So naturally, his sisters, Mary and Martha, send word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” That’s a really interesting way to talk about someone. “The one you love.” Obviously, there’s a special friendship there.
Naturally, the sisters, just as you and I would, expect Jesus to come and heal their brother. That’s not what Jesus does though. Instead, He pulls back the curtain for us and gives us a glimpse into the spiritual realm. He lets us see He’s up to something far bigger than just healing someone. In verse 4, Jesus 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.”
Jesus pulls back the curtain with the words “so that.” What’s really going on here? The sickness will not end in death “so that God’s son may be glorified through it.” With that being the primary mission, what happens next in verses 5 and 6 makes sense…
“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…”
The whole story hinges on the word, “So.” Lazarus is sick. He’s loved by Jesus. His sisters, Mary and Martha, are loved by Jesus. “So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, Jesus immediately departed for Bethany.”
No, that’s not what happens. Jesus doesn’t immediately depart. He waits. For two days.
Two days may not seem like very long, but it is when someone you love is dying before your eyes. It’s a long time when you’re crying out for God’s help, but no answer appears. Most likely, you’ve prayed for something for much longer than two days. Maybe it’s been two months. Or two years. Or ten.
When the answer we want doesn’t come or doesn’t come quickly, it’s easy to lose heart, isn’t it? It’s easy to give up. Sometimes we begin to question God’s love and goodness. I’ve done that. I’ve doubted Him. And I’ve gotten angry. I’ve allowed disappointment with life to become disappointment with God.
But behind the circumstances you and I are facing, there’s always something bigger going on. The big story is God’s glory. When God shows up by either changing our circumstances or giving us the peace and endurance to keep going…He is glorified. Those around us get to see God at work.
The story of Lazarus continues though and we get to see the curtain pulled back again.
When Jesus gets ready to leave for Bethany, He tells His disciples, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”
He does it again. He pulls back the curtain and lets us see what’s really going on. He says He’s glad He wasn’t there to heal Lazarus, so that they would believe.
When you and I face painful or confusing circumstances, when life throws more at us than we think we can handle, let’s remember God is at work growing our faith. He wants us to see Him at work so our capacity to trust Him grows.
God sees your situation. He knows the desire of your heart. He’s aware of the unmet need. He’s not unconcerned. He loves you deeply. So…maybe He hasn’t answered your prayer yet…or in the way you wanted Him to, so that He will be glorified and so that you will believe. Will God always answer the way we want? No, but when He doesn’t, we still have the promise of His peace.
Whatever you’re facing today…remember to pull back the curtain and take a peek at what God is up to.