– Pastor Brandon’s article from the March 2017 Newsletter
The last few days have not gone as planned. I started the week already feeling a time crunch with a few extra things to do and less time than usual to accomplish them. Then, one of the kids got sick, and things went completely sideways. After a few rough nights and days spent caring for the little one, along with several other pleasant, but unforeseen, opportunities, I’m feeling wiped out, and I still haven’t “gotten anything done.” What I mean is that my original to-do list for the week is still sitting there, untouched. Fortunately, I’ve handled all this with the grace and poise of…Okay seriously, let’s just say that I haven’t exactly been a happy camper.
As I sat down to spend some time with the Lord today, I knew that we needed to talk about my attitude. I began by laying out what I was thinking and feeling, and acknowledging that I wasn’t in a good place. I’ve been reading through the Gospel of John, and as soon as I glanced at the chapter number for the day, I had a fairly good idea of what God might be wanting to say in regard to my current issues.
John 11 relays the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. That’s pretty amazing, right? I’ll highlight a few of the key elements, but you should really go read the chapter. It begins with Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, sending news to Jesus: “Lord, the one you love is sick.” Again in verse 6, we are assured that Jesus loves Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, yet to our great surprise, Jesus does not rush off to heal him. Instead, he waits two days to make the journey, and by the time he arrives, Lazarus has been dead for four days. Upon Jesus’ arrival, Martha and Mary, each in turn, make the following statement: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” They are grieving for their brother, and they know that Jesus could have prevented his death. Things could have been different.
Today, I find myself identifying with Martha and Mary a little more than usual. I’m certainly not dealing with anything as serious as death, but as I take a look at my situation, I echo their sentiments. “It didn’t have to be this way. Things could have been different. Lord, you could have done something else.” I wonder why things didn’t go my way. At least in my mind, my plan would have been so much easier.
Back in chapter 11, we’re given clues along the way that there’s something else going on, something more than meets the eyes. When Jesus first hears of Lazarus’ illness, he plainly says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Before making the journey, Jesus tells his disciples, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” When Martha affirms her trust in Christ, Jesus encourages her by proclaiming, “I am the resurrection and the life…” At the tomb, Jesus reminds them that if they believed, they would see the glory of God, and when he prays to the Father, he does so out loud so that those with him may believe that he has been sent by God. Finally, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, and we are told that many of the Jews put their faith in him. So, from the beginning, God planned to use these circumstances to bring people into his eternal life.
This story brings an important perspective to my own situation. When things don’t go my way, it’s easy to be frustrated, irritated, dare I say angry. I can get wrapped up in how I think things should have played out. I might even think, “hey, I thought I was the one you loved?” This passage reminds me that God does indeed love me, but I also need to know that his plans for my life go far beyond anything I could dream up for myself. I tend to value my own immediate comfort a little too much, and I make my plans accordingly. Yet, God’s plan involves sharing his eternal glory with me and with the people around me. I don’t always understand why things are the way they are, and I don’t think I ever will. However, God’s plans are much bigger than my own, and if I trust in him, I too will see his goodness and his glory. Hey, I even wrote my article so I can check that off the list.