“Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.’ ” John 11:14–15
Why do you believe that God is real? That Jesus is your Savior? That your Heavenly Father loves you? That he knows what to do and will help you? That he has the power to overcome any difficulty? How do you know? Why do you believe?
The answers to those question is more than a simple, “Because the Bible says so.” Somewhere in each of our past there’s an experience, or a set of experiences, in which we experienced a need and God met that need in such a way that we saw that he was real, present, active, powerful, and that his Word is his Word. The need provided the opportunity for God to give us the answers we were looking for. If it hadn’t been for that need God could have done all the same things but we wouldn’t have been convinced because we wouldn’t have been looking in the same way. Even if we’d seen what he’d done, or heard what his word had said, we’d have have experienced it all differently because we’d have experienced it without the need.
The news that Lazarus had died was something that brought all of them grief. They’d all experienced his friendship and hospitality. They’d all been guests in his home, eaten his food, and seen his fondness and attachment to Jesus. They knew what his loss would mean to his sisters Martha and Mary. No doubt they were thinking the same words that both of Lazarus’ sisters would eventually say to him, “Master, if you’d been there he wouldn’t have died.”
Friends, a greater, deeper, bigger, more profound belief demands that we have experienced a greater, deeper, bigger, more profound need and also experienced God’s intervention as he fixed or carried us through that need.
Jesus feels what we feel. He’s sympathetic to our circumstances. He’s hurt when we’re hurt. He grieves when we grieve. And he feels our anxiety when we pass through uncertainty. But he also rejoices with us in the victories we win and the strength we gain as a result of these trials. But if the trials and heartbreaks had never come he also knows that we’d remain weak and ignorant and unbelieving. We need the trials to open our eyes and to direct our attention so that we can see.
Jesus belief was such that he could say at the beginning of the trial, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there.” He knew what was coming and he knew that it would grow their faith.
Friends, God may not reveal to us the exact outcome of the hardships we’re experiencing, but he’s promised that he’ll be with us, and he’ll sustain us, and carry us through. His word also tells us that we’ll be stronger, more faith filled, for having gone through them. We can trust our Heavenly Father not only to send us the blessings we need but also the difficulties need.