“Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:6 NIV)
Many times in our lives we can feel discouraged and hopeless. We turn our eyes to our Lord longing for His full redemption. Like Lazarus’ sisters we sometimes ask, “Where are you and why aren’t you here? When will you answer?” However, that line of thinking often brings us to a place of discouragement.
We can find ourselves in the John 11 story of Lazarus. (Please take a moment to read it now if you can.) Each of us has a bit of Martha and Miriam in our personality. We even see examples of this in how the disciples understood and responded to the situation when they thought it was good for their sick friend to “sleep” (See John 11:11-12). Our faith has borders; our understanding has limits. For example, Martha understood Lazarus would rise again in the resurrection at the last day. However, it was beyond her ability to comprehend by faith that the one standing in front of her, Yeshua, could be THE resurrection and the life NOW.
Miriam, in the midst of her sorrow, was full of questions.
· Why didn’t Yeshua come before Lazarus died?
· Where was He and what took Him so long?
· Why were others touched by Yeshua but her brother died?
Friends were mourning Lazarus’ death. Even today here in Israel there are people whose job it is mourn at a funeral. This expression of pain and grieving is good for processing, but not a good place to remain. Yeshua’s grief over Lazarus’ death was partly tied to the people around Him. He grieved with those who were stuck there in a dark corner – unable to look forward, beyond the grief and mourning – feeling hopeless and devoid of a future.
As we imagine rolling away the stone blocking the burial cave where Lazarus was laid, our first thought is about the smell of a body decaying for four days. However there are obviously a host of biological roadblocks to consider in a dead body – such as the brain, heart, lungs and other organs which have ceased to receive blood or oxygen. Then there is the cause of death. Was it a virus, cancer or other disease? When Lazarus came out of the cave, returning to life included healing and restoration of body, senses, memory and mind.
We can take this example of Lazarus coming back from the dead and use it as a parallel to those who have come to know the Lord and walked with Him for a period of time, but one day find themselves feeling like they are trapped in a dark corner or like a corpse in a cave. Some may have become discouraged. Some may have issues with other believers or leadership within the congregation. Some may have separated themselves or allowed the enemy to separate them from other believers, from fellowship and from worship in the house of God. Perhaps there is disagreement over doctrine or theology or everyday principles of living.
Are we like Lazarus, asleep or even dead?
Lazarus’ sisters thought Yeshua was LATE in coming to help their sick brother. However, God is never late in anything. Take heart. Believe. His purposes will come to pass according to His plan and timing.
Or, as the Tomlin song goes,
“From Age to Age He Stands
And Time is in His Hands
The Beginning and the End…”
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, January 2022, and reposted with permission.