That’s just a fancy way of saying, “Life sucks!” And it does, quite often. My strong and capable brother declined over nine years of suffering, and I joined him many times in discussing the aforementioned declaration. He had good days, but the overall direction of his health was negative.
He died peacefully. Took his evening meds, turned in for the night, and woke up with Jesus. I know he’s in a better place.
I’m not the first to lose a brother. It happened to Mary and Martha, close friends of Jesus. Their brother, Lazarus, was ill, and his prognosis was not good. The ladies sent word to Jesus asking Him to come and do something. Jesus had demonstrated healing power on countless occasions. Surely the Savior would alter His ministry plans and come quickly.
But Jesus delayed. Two full days. Until He knew Lazarus was dead. Seems out of character for One who loved Lazarus…and Mary…and Martha.
Martha received word that Jesus was nearing Bethany and walked to meet him. Her first words expressed sadness, and perhaps some blame, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Martha left Jesus to find Mary who also ran to meet the Savior. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Had the sisters shared this thought in their grief-laden conversations over the last few hours?
Jesus absorbed the words, saw the tears, and listened to the weeping of the crowd around Him. Lazarus held a special place in many hearts. The Bible tells us in John 11:33, “He (Jesus) was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled.” That declaration is followed by the shortest verse in Scripture, John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”
The prophet Isaiah described Jesus (Isaiah 53:3) as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. Jesus knew what was to come next in the story, so His tears were not flowing from a sense of loss. Jesus saw the ravages of sin as well as death’s heartache displayed on the faces around Him. That moved the Savior’s heart.
Never conclude He does not care. Hebrews 4:15 (NLT) reveals, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses…” He became a man, walked where we walk and faced what we face. He knows. He understands. He’s been there.
Jesus stood by the tomb and prayed. In His words we find the reason Lazarus had to die. John 11:42, “…so that they may believe that You sent Me.” The narrative continues in John 11:43, “When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth.’”
Wait for it. This really happened. John 11:44, “The man who had died came forth…”
Sweet! Never has grief fled from a graveyard so fast.
Now that brings us back to the title, adverse circumstances. Could it be God has a purpose in those situations, something deep with more eternal clout than we can imagine?
Isaiah shared in Isaiah 14:24, “The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.’” The prophet adds in Isaiah 14:27, “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
I’m not smarter than God. Perhaps instead of declaring, “Life sucks!” I need to consider God has a plan in allowing adverse circumstances, and in His mercy and grace He invites me to take part.
(Credit for the photography goes to Jeffrey D. Nichols, 1960-2009.)