Skip to main content

John 11:14-16

Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus’ dear friend had died…and he was glad? The passage actually doesn’t say that he was pleased with his death, per se. Jesus could be glad, despite the death of a dear friend, because He was certain of the outcome. We see at the end of the events of this chapter that grief was comforted, life was restored, many more believed, and the necessary death of Jesus was set in motion. All of these were reasons to be glad, but the disciples could not see that from their limited vantage point and young faith.

Sometimes, the providence of God is painful.

Unfortunately, I tend to learn most of my life lessons at the end of a two-by-four. I can be very prideful, impatient, and hard-headed so I take a little longer to change course…and God will let me suffer the consequences. He does so because he loves me and knows what is best for my development as a disciple of Jesus. I am forever grateful that he never leaves me nor forsakes me (Deut. 31:6), and even when my mess is self-made, my Heavenly Father extends grace, mercy, and patience. When I was younger in my faith, I didn’t think this way. Rather, I questioned and complained, wondering where God was and why he would allow suffering in my life. I was simply “too young” to understand.

It’s not about you.

That was the first line in The Purpose Driven Life, the best-selling Christian book of all time (next to the bible). For most of us, it’s a hard pill to swallow. At the time, I’m sure Lazarus would have preferred not to be deathly ill. His family and friends would have been praying for healing and perhaps excited to see Jesus come strolling into town just in time to perform a miracle on his dear friend. That is the script they were writing, but Jesus had a much bigger plot to fulfill. He doesn’t exist to give us our best lives, now…but to glorify the Father and build the Kingdom. That being said, he also loves US and is also working to perfect our faith.

My sister-in-law died in 2020 from pancreatic cancer. She was only 56 and left behind three young adult children and her husband…along with two siblings and her father. It was a 15-month battle filled with up’s and down’s…victories and defeats…high praise and crushing despair. A few months before she went to be with Jesus she said, “If one person is saved because of what I’m going through, it will all be worth it.” That’s a heavenly perspective. That’s Jesus’ perspective. It should be our perspective, as well.