Why does God allow problems to go from bad to impossible? If He really loves us, why doesn’t He fix things when we ask for His help?
It’s like having a friend who always told you to call. “Anytime, for anything.” Then when you are facing a crisis, you reach out and the friend says, “Sorry, not now.”
You feel let down, angry, and maybe confused. Right? It doesn’t make sense. Life doesn’t make sense.
Two of Jesus’s friends felt that way. In the Gospel of John, we see Jesus disappoint two sisters who were devoted to Him.
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha … So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick’” (John 11:1,3).
An awful situation has become terrible, and now it’s worse: Jesus refuses to come help. His friend Lazarus dies. Then, Jesus tells His disciples they’re going to Bethany. That doesn’t make sense to them. Not only is Lazarus already dead, Jesus’s opponents in Bethany want to kill Him. (And the disciples are thinking, if they want to kill You, Jesus, they want to kill us, too!)
Their reaction is based on logic … and fear. Jesus replies that a person “who walks by day will not stumble for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles for he has not light.”
The disciples (and Martha and Mary) are stumbling because they have forgotten who Jesus is. He had already told them:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
You see, Jesus knew what had happened. (His friend was sick and would die.) He knew what was going to happen. (He was going to wait to visit, and then accomplish something no one could imagine.) And He knew the bigger purpose of it all. (God and His Son were going to be glorified in ways that would not have been possible if Jesus had behaved in the expected way!) Those who would experience this dramatic scene would have their faith grow!
He knows what’s happening in your life right now. He hears your cries, and cries with you. But He also knows what is going to happen and how everything will turn out. He wants God to be glorified. And He wants your faith to grow, and the faith of all those around you.
Four days after Lazarus was buried, Jesus called him out of his grave – a dead man come back to life. Whatever you’re facing, your faith’s rebirth may take longer. Maybe years! But Jesus knows the big picture and truly has your best in mind.
“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” (John 11:25-26).
God’s purposes are bigger than fixing our problems or getting our lives to work out according to what makes sense to us. So take heart today that life with Christ is way bigger than that!
To find out more about the hope we have in Jesus, check out the series entitled Jesus Offers Hope.
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