June 10, 2010

Faith and Suffering

I've been reading the Gospel of John, read Chapter 11, The Resurrection of Lazarus today.

It has a real strong tie-in to a sermon I heard at church recently, and also bears on the question of how a good God can allow suffering.

To recap: Mary and Martha have a sick brother, Lazarus. They send a message to Jesus to come, expecting that Lazarus can be healed. Jesus gets the message, and stays put two days, then goes and intentionally arrives four days after Lazarus's death. Martha and Mary ask "why didn't you come?". But Jesus had something better in mind - Lazarus's resurrection, so that they can believe.

The wording of the New King James Version (my favorite) is very intentional. "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was." Jesus said "No" (meaning not yet) because He loved them, not in spite of loving them. Why? To show them something much greater.

Later in the chapter, Jesus is revealed as grieving at the tomb. He is clearly in great grief as He observes Mary's grief. Jesus clearly wasn't happy with the consequences of His decision, at least not at that moment, so again why? Because His Father told Him to. In a later chapter of John (12) Jesus declares that He doesn't speak even one word that isn't directed for Him to say by His Father. It is God's will for Jesus to declare His power after Martha's and Mary's grief.

How does it apply to us? Just because we are suffering doesn't mean that God does not care about our suffering. He may have something greater to reveal to us later that we would not understand if life were too easy. There may be something greater to come to us that would not be available if the events causing our suffering did not occur.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at June 10, 2010 12:54 PM | TrackBack