Category Archives: Encouragement

Why did Lazarus die?

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
  2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
  3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
  4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
  5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
  6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (Jn. 11:1-6)

As I was reading this over my coffee this morning, it struck me. (Funny how that works – I’ve read this countless times, and I didn’t exactly miss it before, but it didn’t strike me like it did today).

Because Jesus loved Lazarus and Mary and Martha;

And because he heard that Lazarus was sick…he waited two more days.

Think about that. Lazarus is dying. Jesus can heal him. But instead, Jesus delays. Lazarus dies. And he loved them.

This is astounding. Imagine what Mary and Martha were going through. For days and days they wait for Jesus to show up. Jesus delays. He dawdles. He stays two more days. Lazarus gets sicker.

Finally Lazarus dies. Mary’s heart breaks. Martha’s heart breaks. Where was Jesus? Why didn’t he come? Does he not care?

(If you have never asked those questions, have you really lived on this earth? How often do we wonder the same thing. How much more? How much longer? Why won’t he stop this? Why won’t he heal?)

But at the beginning of it all, Jesus tells them why. “That the Son of God might be glorified through it.”

There is something about Jesus that hadn’t been revealed yet. He hadn’t been “glorified”, that is, he hadn’t been seen for who he truly was – the Resurrection and the Life.

They all thought that not even Jesus could do anything about death. Lazarus is dead. It’s over.

And then Jesus says, “Lazarus, come forth!”

When God allows the pain to take hold; when God allows yet another thing to strike a blow; when God allows the devil to ravish and devour; when God allows us to go as low as we think we can – and then he takes us even lower –

It isn’t because he hates us. It isn’t because he hasn’t forgotten us. It isn’t because he is negligent or evil.

It is because we close our eyes and think we can solve all of our own problems. We can fix this, if we do just one more thing.

But when death occurs, when we reach that point where there is NO fixing it, NO coming back, NO solution – THAT is when we begin to see Jesus for who he is.

Not even death can stop the power of the Son of God.

Not great sin, not great despair, not great pain or great illness – not even death.

We have a hard time seeing it until we do. And that is worth everything.

If the Son of God can be revealed in our suffering and weakness, our pain and sorrow, then it is worth it all. No one falls through the cracks. He never fails.

The day will come when he will call you out of this tomb as well. And there will be no more tears and no more curse.

When we’ve seen the tears and the curse and know what it is to suffer great loss, then we are the first to shout for joy when victory comes.

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Filed under Encouragement, Gospel, Hope

Whispers

There is much that we could get worked up about.

It doesn’t take special insight to know that this world is twisted, broken, oftentimes ugly.

But briefly there are glimpses of justice. Not much, but enough to remind us of perfect justice to come.

Briefly, there are glimpses of beauty. Never enough to quench our thirst, but enough to remind us of beauty beyond our imagining.

Briefly, you might glimpse like a shifting shadow out of the corner of the eye – an echo of Eden. A reminder that God has not cast us off.

An ethereal tune that you can’t quite catch, but it causes deep sighs of longing.

A touch of a lover that reminds you that you are desired

A shimmer of a cool breeze with the hint of jasmine that reminds you of spring

The hint of another country never traveled

The whisper of citrus and plum and berry on the nose of the wine…

The grandkids are laughing.

When you look at the glimpses from one angle, you might be tempted to think that they are God, rather than gifts of his bounty.

You miss the good because you are always searching for the better.

But from another angle, you might miss those glimpses because you are too angry that the world isn’t what it is supposed to be.

So the jasmine goes by unnoticed.

The music goes unheard because you don’t like her politics.

The wine isn’t French or Napa so you miss its bouquet…

You’re too afraid of lust to notice that her hair is shimmering in the sunlight.

You’re too afraid of catching sin to smile and be kind.

You miss the joy of the kids because you demanded idols to justify your wisdom and strength, and instead you got kids with their own minds who mystify you.

Don’t miss the joy. Don’t miss the beauty.

It isn’t God. But it is from God.

It points to God.

Jesus will come again and when the marriage supper of the lamb is served it will be perfect.

Justice will be perfect. Beauty will be perfect. Contentment will be perfect.

Fellowship will be perfect.

So smile. Listen to that beautiful music. Sit and smell the jasmine. It fades quickly.

The whispers go away quickly. We fade and die. But He remembers our frailty…

So teach us to number our days.

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Filed under Encouragement, Goodness, Light

What a day might bring…

Today you might not accomplish what you want to accomplish.

Today, you might be anxious and fearful.

Today, you might hurt and just want the pain to stop.

Today, you might be consumed with past failures that whirl around your head like a favorite blankie in a clothes-dryer.

Today, you might be consumed with fears of a future that you can do nothing about.

Today, you might be rushing off to somewhere so fast that you forget to breathe.

Or-

Today might be a good day

Today you might accomplish a long-time dream

Today, you might remember to breathe

Today, you might remember to smile.

Whatever a day may bring, Jesus still rose from the dead.

Whatever a day may bring, He remembers that we are dust.

Whatever a day may bring, He still raises the dead.

Whatever a day may bring, He still raises kings and deposes kings.

Whatever a day may bring, you can’t hurry enough to outrun his mercy and goodness.

So slow down. Breathe. Look at the mist drifting through the trees. Taste the coffee.

Brew a cup of tea properly. That can’t be rushed.

And no matter what you do or do not accomplish, you cannot add or subtract anything from the infinite love of Christ for you, and you personally. He knows you by name. He loves you and gave his life that you might have grace and peace forever.

So slow down. Breathe. Rest.

When Sunday rolls around, go into his presence, wherever you are. Join with the congregation of the Lord Jesus, whether online, or outdoors, or wherever they meet together.

In his house is peace forevermore.

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Filed under Encouragement