In just a couple of days, we will celebrate Easter. We’ll celebrate the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. And we’ll celebrate His resurrection. But for some of us, connecting to an event that happened over 2000 years ago is tough, especially if we’re currently facing a difficult or seemingly impossible situation today.
Maybe you can relate? Perhaps you’ve recently lost a home, a spouse, a job, or a child and you’ve been crying out to God: “God, please help! Where are you?” Although you know intellectually that God is with you, experientially, He just feels silent and distant.
The truth is, despite how often God lovingly intervenes and provides dramatic answers to our prayers, there are other times when God allows our situations to go from bad to impossible. I don’t know about you, but when that happens, I often ask the question … why? Why does a God who loves me so much allow me to go through so much pain?
We ask this because when we’re hurting and we ask God to rescue us, we expect Him to show up and save the day. After all, He’s the all-powerful God of the Universe, right? So when He doesn’t show up in the way we want, we get confused, angry or afraid.
But God doesn’t always show up on our time schedule, according to our expectations, to fulfill our own agenda in the way we think He should.Instead, what we need to realize is that sometimes God has an even bigger gift for us than solving our problems.
Sometimes God allows our problems to go from bad to impossible so that we can really believe in His love and His power that is available to us.
In the story of Jesus and Lazarus, Mary and Martha experience this firsthand. A few days before Jesus is nailed to the cross, Mary sends a messenger to Jesus to tell him that her brother, Lazarus, is sick.
When Jesus hears the news, 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.” 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. (John 11:4-6)
Both Mary and Martha were expecting Jesus to come immediately and heal their brother, but instead He waits. Why? Two days later, he tells his disciples, “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.” (v. 14)
When Jesus finally arrives at Mary’s home, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. With tears running down her face, Mary says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (v. 32)
Mary knew that Jesus had the power to heal Lazarus. So she was probably hurt and maybe even felt like Jesus didn’t care because He didn’t get there in time. But John goes on to write that Jesus identifies with her pain. He was “deeply moved in spirit and was troubled,” and he wept. (v. 33-35)
And then He did something amazing – He raised Lazarus from the dead! Jesus demonstrated through this miraculous act that He is the Messiah so that all who witnessed it that day would believe in Him – not just intellectually but in an experientially, life-changing way.
Jesus didn’t just want to solve Mary and Lazarus’ temporary problem. He wanted to give them a gift of Himself, so that no matter what they faced for the rest of their life, they would trust in His character as the one and only God who would come through for them — in this life and forever.
Are you facing an impossible situation today? If you are, I want to offer you some encouragement. Jesus wants to do something amazing in your life, too, in the midst of your pain and suffering. He wants to do so much more than just make your life better. He wants to get behind you and give you a brand new life and have an intimate relationship with you. And He promises to rejoice with you, weep with you, and walk with you every day of your life and give you hope in the midst of your darkest times.
This Easter, it’s my prayer that we will come to really know the extent of God’s amazing love and place our trust in Christ, either for the first time, or experience Him in a fresh, new way like never before.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip