Have you ever felt like your world is collapsing and it’s all you can do just to keep from being buried alive? I want to talk about disappointment today. Not the kind when you forgot Chick-fil-A was closed on a Sunday ;) but the kind that truly rocks your world and causes you to question the very belief structures that were your foundation.
I’ve been rereading the story of ‘The Raising of Lazarus’ lately. You may be familiar with this passage in John 11 and how it exemplifies Jesus’ empathy with our pain because it says he wept (when visiting his friends who had just lost a loved one). But I noticed a few other things this time. Firstly, the fourth verse states, “But when Jesus heard about it [his dear friend Lazarus being very sick] he said, ‘Lazarus’ sickness WILL NOT END IN DEATH…’” But then Lazarus dies (verse 14). Mary and Martha (Lazarus’ sisters) had petitioned Jesus for help and He, by all appearances, had done nothing. He didn’t show up in time. How is this the same Jesus referred to in Luke 6:19 which says, “Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.” Talk about confusing and disappointing…
There have been similar situations throughout the Bible. God, you said you would rescue your people from the power of Egypt and now they’re being crushed even harder than before (Exodus 5:22-23). And remember Job? God, I know the rain falls on the just and the unjust but what the heck! Job lost all ten of his children in a single natural disaster. God, you said Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death, and now he’s dead! How does one make sense of that? Well…it must mean that this is NOT THE END OF THE STORY. The same is true for those previous examples and for your story as well, whatever that may be. I’ve heard it said that God’s past faithfulness demands our current trust. He sees the big picture. And usually we can see in hindsight only AFTER we’ve passed through something.
Jesus does go on to raise Lazarus from the dead, and the ‘delay’ in healing brought about so much good and glory to God. In the next chapter, we see in John 12:9-11&19 that, “When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus… Then the pharisees said to each other, ‘There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him [Jesus]!’”
So when disappointment strikes, take a dose of perspective. I don’t mean to sound flippant. God sees the stuff we go through, recognizes that it’s hard and He cares. Back to the story in Exodus 3:7-8 God says, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I AM AWARE OF THEIR SUFFERING. So I have come down to rescue them…” But regarding perspective, just remember that God’s goodness to me trumps whatever ‘badness’ I’m experiencing. We are never abandoned by God. He’s our infinite blessing, the everlasting fount. Our Comforter, our Advocate, our Hope. No matter what, I have freedom from fear and from every stronghold the enemy had in my life. I am new. I am never alone. I am represented. I am seen. I am known. And I am loved, perfectly and eternally. I’ll close with 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”