See Beyond Present Circumstance
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” — John 11:1-4
Most of us know the story we are about to read is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. With this in mind, these first few verses set the stage for us with a sharp contrast between how Jesus perceives situations versus how humanity does. Jesus looks at illness, death, and the challenges of this life differently than you and I do. He is not distracted by distress, fear, or future concerns. And he is not because he is always certain about what God's going to do.
But Mary and Martha come to Jesus with this urgent plea. They want Jesus to intervene immediately in the illness of their brother Lazarus. And they do one thing right. They bring their concerns and needs to Jesus. But from there, they do a couple of things wrong. First, as we will see through the continuation of the story, they have trouble believing the truth Jesus spoke to them. Jesus gave them a promise, it was — “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” But they didn't accept it, maybe because the physical truth was more true to them than the spiritual truth Jesus spoke. Yet they had enough belief to believe Jesus could heal him because they had seen him do it before, but it was an incomplete belief. This leads to the second thing that did wrong, they believed but only believed healing was possible if Jesus worked a certain way. If Jesus worked their way. But Jesus did not work the way they expected, which exposed their incomplete belief.
So here are some thoughts for you on this. First, when you encounter a challenge in this life, the one to go to is Jesus. It's always Jesus. There is no one else with answers like Jesus. Second, coming to Jesus means you need to start listening to what he says. The way to do this is by finding key scriptures that will anchor your belief. Fighter verses that you can preach to yourself when physical and emotional experiences seem more real than his truth. They sound like this one here — "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Third, stop expecting Jesus to work things out your way. Because guess what? Sometimes Jesus will do exactly what you expect, and then you will link your expectations and actions to how he works. But Jesus is not subject to your expectations and desires. He is God, and we are not. And sometimes, he provides the way you expect, and sometimes he provides in a different way. And we have to be okay with that from beginning to the end. And lastly, when he does respond, you need to give him glory because that thing he did, was done for his glory and not your own. So give it to him.
- How can we cultivate a perspective like Jesus, where we see challenges and trials in life differently than the world around us? What steps can we take to anchor our faith in God's promises and rise above fear and uncertainty?
- Reflecting on the story of Mary and Martha, what are some common tendencies or limitations in our own beliefs and expectations of Jesus? How can we deepen our trust in God's ways, even when they may differ from our own desires or preconceived notions?
DO THIS: Anchor yourself in God's truth.
PRAY THIS: God, help me cultivate a perspective like Jesus, anchored in unwavering faith and trust in Your promises, so that I may rise above fear and uncertainty and see the challenges of life through the lens of faith, giving You all the glory. Amen.
PLAY THIS: You Are God.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.