MUSINGS – July 31 2018
GOD’S SUPERIOR PLAN
Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, the village where Mary and her sister Martha lived, was sick. (Mary was the woman who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus was the one who was sick.) So the sisters sent a messenger to tell Jesus, “Lord, your close friend is sick.” When Jesus heard the message, he said, “His sickness won’t result in death. Instead, this sickness will bring glory to God so that the Son of God will receive glory through it.” Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. Yet, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed I’ll where he was for two more days.
After Jesus said this, he told his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, and I’m going to Bethany to wake him.” His disciples said to him, “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he’ll get well.”
Jesus meant that Lazarus was dead, but the disciples thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was only sleeping. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, but I’m glad that I wasn’t there so that you can grow in faith. Let’s go to Lazarus.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days.
When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus said, “Take the stone away.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, told Jesus, “Lord, there must already be a stench. He’s been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see God’s glory?” So the stone was moved away from the entrance of the tomb. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I’ve known that you always hear me. However, I’ve said this so that the crowd standing around me will believe that you sent me.” After Jesus had said this, he shouted as loudly as he could, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out. Strips of cloth were wound around his feet and hands, and his face was wrapped with a handkerchief. Jesus told them, “Free Lazarus, and let him go.”
There is so much going on in this story. And I encourage you to read it in its entirety other than the selected verses I’ve included.
His close friend is sick. Instead of immediately going to his aid, Jesus makes a pronouncement that this will bring glory to God. There is a plan in place and it isn’t what Lazarus, Mary, Martha, their family or friends want. They want immediate healing. And they trust that Jesus is able to do that. The plan belongs to God for his glory.
I’ve been a believer for fifty some years now. And in those years I’ve prayed countless prayers with tears in my eyes, just as I’m sure Lazarus and his sisters were doing. I’ve believed in God’s power, just as they did. And I was as disappointed when it seemed my prayers were unanswered, just as they were disappointed. And I’ve cried out in hurt, disappointment and bewilderment just as Mary did, “Lord, if only you had been here!”
However, just as the prophet Isaiah records “My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways,” declares the LORD. (55:8) I believe God has a plan and it makes no difference if I understand or I don’t.
When I pray, “Your will be done,” I am saying in affect that I submit my will to His. And though it is sometimes a hard pill to swallow, it is my belief that His plan is superior to mine. And so, after I’ve laid out my “perfect plan” for His approval, I still say, “Not my will, but Yours, Lord.”
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All content (except quotations) © 2018 Thomas E. Williams