From Suffering to Glory
Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God? - John 11:40
Sometimes, I have questions about suffering. I watched my Mom suffer from cancer for about a year and half. I had questions then and maybe some different ones now. When people suffer the question often asked is, "Why does God allow suffering?" Often, a short answer may be given that God allows suffering because of man's sin, but a closer look at Scripture might give a greater answer.
The passage for today is the story of Lazarus from John 11:1-44. I'm not going to give a paraphrase, because the Scripture does not need my help, but I do want to note a few interesting facts in the story. First note, Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick and delayed two days where He was. If He loved His friends, He should have come to their rescue right away, right? Elyse writes this, "It is obvious that Jesus' fierce love for His friends meant something different to Him than it does to us. What made Him wait?" The second thing to note is that after Lazarus had died and Jesus came to Lazarus' sisters, Martha had the answer. "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (v. 21). "When we're facing the prospect of lifelong pain or the possibility of final separation from ones we love, it is easy to think that we know what would best glorify God - immediate deliverance from the problem." (Side note - verses 25-26 are some of my personal favorites as Jesus gives these precious promises.) Then the other sister, Mary, comes to Jesus and says the same thing as Martha. I think the story gets really good in verse 40 when Jesus speaks these words, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" Like those sisters, we often think we have the answer during suffering and instead find out that "Jesus is more interested in our eternal cure than He is in our temporal relief."
The story of Lazarus is filled with the compassion of Christ and His love for people. He allows suffering, but not because of lack of love or compassion. Isaiah 53 in a prophetic proclamation presents Jesus as our Suffering Servant. He understood suffering better than you and I will ever be able to grasp. Those words don't necessarily bring comfort to the suffering that you may be experiencing today. However, this may be your opportunity to see the glory of God. I did not have a clue on that day in July of 2008 that from my Mom's suffering and death, that I would get a small glimpse of the glory of God. Does mean that I embrace and welcome suffering? Of course not, but I believe that as believers we have a unique opportunity to see the glory of God through suffering. Trust Him today that He is working in your suffering. He knows what will best glorify Him. "Somehow, in some way hidden to your weak eyes, your suffering is making a way for that to happen. You will see God's glory, you will begin to see Him as He is, and then you will start to understand."