Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You have a mighty arm, strong is Your hand.”
“God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for He is able to do all things. Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength thou never needest to fear…The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and who trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength.”
Charles H. Spurgeon
Today’s Study Text:
“So then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.’ And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe, to trust and rely on Me.”
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 20
“He Had a Reason – For Your Sake”
“Lord, Thou hast a holy purpose
In each suffering we bear;
In each throw of pain and terror,
In each secret silent tear;
In the weary days of sickness,
Famine, want, and loneliness;
Lord, we know that we must ever
Take our cross and follow Thee
All along the narrow pathway
If we would Thy glory see.”
What event has happened in my life that I could not understand at the time, but now looking back, my vision has changed and I am able to see God’s hand at work?
How would I have felt if Jesus had told me, during a very perplexing and painful time in my own life, “I am glad that I was not there”?
What do I think Jesus meant by this response?
“We serve a gracious Master who knows how to overrule even our mistakes to His glory and our own advantage.”
“There are no accidents in the life of the Christian.”
“Then Jesus became explicit, ‘Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.’”
The Message Bible
With the unexpected information provided by Jesus that their beloved friend Lazarus was dead, the disciples were still in for another reality check. Jesus’ next words were, “I am glad I was not there.”
At first glance this sounds tremendously cold – even heartless. But if we will keep reading, Jesus explains His statement when He goes on to say: “You’re about to be given new grounds for believing” (John 11: 15, The Message Bible). In the King James Version of the Bible, this short phrase reads: “to the intent ye may believe.” If we look at the Greek word “intent” or “hina”, we’ll find that it means to have a “demonstrative purpose.” This is critical for it helps us understand the reason behind Jesus’ words. What He had said on this trip seemed confusing in every way. Even his behavior was unusual. Recognizing this fact, He wanted those close to Him, who were completely thrown off by everything He had said and done, to know He had a reason for everything! This was a well laid out plan and He was going to “demonstrate” in word and action so that they would “believe.” There is also another word I want to look at in the Greek which is “pistenõ” meaning “to have faith or to entrust one’s spiritual well-being to Christ.” I’d like to share the comments penned by Matthew Henry for they do even more to enlighten our thoughts: “If (Jesus) had been there in time, He would have healed Lazarus’ disease and prevented his death, which would have been much for the comfort of Lazarus’ friends; but then His disciples would have seen no further proof of His power than what they had often seen, and, consequently, their faith would have received no improvement.”
I don’t know about you and all the challenges in your life right now. But I do know one thing – having Jesus look over my life, knowing that my faith needs to deepen in order for me to be able to handle all that happens in my life is such a comforting thought. Jesus told those dearest to Him, “I am doing this for your sake so that your faith will be stronger.” Why? Because Jesus understood that those disciples would be called to endure His crucifixion and death in a few short days. Furthermore, His time with these dear ones would be so short and then they would be called upon to carry the message of their crucified and resurrected Lord to the world. What Jesus needed to leave behind, on this earth, was a band of unshakeable followers. These needed to be men and women of such faith that even the threat of death could not uproot from their hearts the message they delivered. Nothing and no one could shake their belief in Jesus, the Messiah – their Savior. And so today, again, Jesus says: “For your sake, Dorothy, I allowed this situation, this unexplainable event, this terrible heartache which has come into your life – so your weak faith is strengthened and will not falter or fail.” How about you? Is there some unexplained event that is shaking you today? Is there an unexpected diagnosis? A break-up in your family? And now you are crying out to Jesus, “What’s the reason for this?”
Often when we are thrown into a crisis, in our own eyes it seems to be completely meaningless. I know that I’ve actually told God in my prayers, “If I’m supposed to learn something from this event, You’re going to have to show me what it is because right now, I don’t get it!” Maybe you’ve felt the same way. And we are not alone because the sisters in Bethany were waiting and waiting and they didn’t know why. They didn’t know the reason. Neither could Jesus’ disciples figure out the situation. So Jesus turned to them and said, “nevertheless let us go unto him (Lazarus)” (John 11: 15, K.J.V.). I love the word “nevertheless” when Jesus says it for this is what happens. And we need to go to the Greek to get the full impact of this word. The word “alla” means “notwithstanding” or “contrariwise.” And now for the Transformation Garden paraphrase: “Even though Lazarus is already dead, we are going to see him.” “It doesn’t matter how bad the doctors say things are, I’m going to come to your bedside where I can place My healing hands on you.” “No matter how shattered your family relations, I’m coming anyway for nothing is impossible with God.”
Just think how the disciples must have felt when Jesus said, “I’m doing what I’m doing for your sake. I’m moving the way I’m moving to strengthen your faith. And in spite of the way things look, nevertheless, we are going to see Lazarus.”
The nineteenth century poet, Caroline Atherton Mason, sums up the “nevertheless” times in our lives in her poem, “God Knows Best”:
“Leave it to a Higher Will
To stay or speed me, trusting still
That all is well, and sure that He
Who launched my bark will sail with me
Through storm and calm, and will not fail,
Whatever breezes may prevail,
To land me, every peril past,
Within His sheltering heaven at last.”
As we return to the Biblical narrative, our hearts ache with two sisters whose loss seems to be too much for them to endure. Yet as J.R. Macduff describes the scene, we must “follow the dead man’s ‘Friend.’ It is a mighty task (Jesus) has undertaken, to storm the strong enemy in his own citadel, and roll back the barred gates! In mingled majesty and tenderness He hastens to the desolate home…again (Mary and Martha) had imagined that at last they heard Jesus’ tardy steps or listened to His hand on the latch, or to the loving music of His longed-for voice. But they are mistaken; it was only the beating of the vine-tendrils or the foot-fall of a passerby. The Lord is still absent!...Oh, be still afflicted ones! He is coming…the thirsty land is about to become streams of water. The sky is at its darkest when the rainbow of love is seen spanning the firmament and showers of blessings are about to fall on the ‘Home of Bethany.’”
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His foot steps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
and He will make it plain.”
The Loom of Time
“Man’s life is laid in the loom of time
To a pattern he does not see,
While the weavers work and the shuttles fly
Till the dawn of eternity.
Some shuttles are filled with silver threads
And some with threads of gold,
While often but the darker hues
Are all that they may hold.
But the weaver watches with skillful eye
Each shuttle fly to and fro,
And sees the pattern so deftly wrought
As the loom moves sure and slow.
God surely planned the pattern;
Each thread, the dark and fair,
Is chosen by His Master skill
And placed in the web with care.
He only knows its beauty,
And guides the shuttles which hold
The threads so unattractive,
As well as the threads of gold.
Not till each loom is silent
And shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God reveal the pattern
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads were as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
For the pattern which He planned.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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