We all face adversity in life. Sometimes it’s because we make an honest mistake, or sometimes it’s because other people do things to us that hurt us. But sometimes, bad things happen to us for no apparent reason even when we’re following God. It’s during these times we naturally cry out and ask for God to help.
But what happens when God is silent and our prayers aren’t being answered? And our problems get even worse?
Deep down, we may begin to wonder: “I don’t think God cares about me.” And “If He does, then why would he be silent and distant and not seem to care?”
At some point in our relationship with the Lord, we’ve all probably asked the question: Why would God let our most difficult problems go from bad to impossible, if He really loved us?
In John 11, Jesus asks and answers this very question. In the story, a problem is brought to Jesus: His friend Lazarus is near death. Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha ask for Jesus to come and help. But Jesus doesn’t respond in a way that they expect.
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, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” (John 11:4-7)
Jesus loved Lazarus, yet when Jesus found out his friend was sick he waited several days before going to him. Why did He do this? On the surface, this didn’t look like love.
Two days later, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus died and explains why he waited: “… for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (v. 14-15)
When Jesus arrives at Mary and Martha’s house, Lazarus’ two sisters are heartbroken. Martha said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (v. 21)
Martha knew Jesus had the power to heal her brother, yet he chose not to. Why?
His strategy was – and still is — to give them something better. Rather than solving the problem in her life, he revealed to her the author of life.
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (v. 25-26)
At the end of the story, Jesus demonstrates the glory and power of God by raising Lazarus from the dead.
So often, we want God to be our “self-help genie” to make our life work out. Yet, God often waits to change our situation, and He doesn’t always take away our problems.
God’s purposes and His love are greater than Him fixing our problems.
Although He may not deliver us out of problems, God always promises to delivers us through them. He also gives us strength and His grace to endure.
In John 8:12, Jesus says this about Himself: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus acknowledges that this life is “dark” – it’s filled with difficulty and pain. But if we’re following Him, then we will walk in the light. And as we walk with Him, we learn to believe in His love and experience His power.
If we don’t give up or give in, not only do our problems increase our faith and trust in God but they also produce a character change in us.
This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote: …We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
It’s my prayer that as we face hardships in this life, we might come to believe in God’s love for us and know the extent of His power that’s available to us.
Want to learn more about how to endure through life’s difficult circumstances? We offer several Group Studies on this topic as well as free MP3 downloads of our previously aired radio broadcasts that are available on our Weekday Radio Archive.
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