“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
It’s the last day of the year – the end of a long year for me. One year ago, Regina was not doing too well – she had a strange infection of some kind that had showed up several months earlier that was being treated and that, later, would require surgery. She was still teaching, of course, but was enjoying the holiday break. As I recall, we had not planned to do much during the holiday because she was dragging quite a bit. Unlike her, she would sit down on the couch during the day and fall asleep for hours. For several holiday seasons prior, we had agreed to go to a movie every day for one week – five movies. Unfortunately, last year there just weren’t enough decent movies to see but, also, she just wasn’t up to it.
She was failing. Little did we know that the dominoes were already beginning to fall…
And God’s view of things is unique. He can see all and sense all, I believe. But I don’t think seeing all and knowing all is what God uses as license to do all. As parents, we often could see all and sense all with our little boys, but there were many times when intervention was not the appropriate action for us to take. Of course, we could have stepped in every time the guys needed something – we were fully capable. But in the natural order of ‘little boys growing up in the world’, we were almost compelled to let them fend and fight and experience what little boys needed to experience and learn. Often times, it was very hard to watch. And often times, the boys did get hurt. It made us sad. Hopefully, the experiences were used by the boys to learn and then be stronger the next time that difficult situations arose in their lives.
I can’t even possibly begin to explain and even touch on how God masters his universe day to day. It would be silly for any of us to try to explain his mastery of the universe even in ‘like as’ or metaphorical terms. I think it is just too big and that it is beyond what our human minds can comprehend. Let’s leave it at that. I have.
But what I do see and feel are the ripples of the countless decisions made by us and people before us since the beginning of time. Decisions that God let us and them make. I know God can see and feel my hurt, but I also know that much of what happens to me (and you and all of us) is what is brought on by our own skewed approach to living in this difficult, broken world.
And here we get into philosophies that men of all ages have struggled with – why doesn’t an all-powerful God step in and prevent our human suffering? Or put another way by those more cynical or by those who have been directly hurt, “If God is so big and powerful, why did he let … happen?”
We are coming full circle now. This is how I am trying to work through all of this. We began about a month ago with a brief discussion from John 11. Now if you haven’t made the decision to believe in God or in the Bible then this may not help you too much. I’m sorry and we can, of course, talk about it – I would love to talk with you. But I have been pretty clear that I do believe in God and that I do believe in the message of the Bible. And in this belief, my questions and answers are all bounded by God and his mysterious governance of the universe.
But back to John 11. Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to die – he sensed it and his friends had also told Jesus that Lazarus was going to die. It was pretty obvious that Lazarus had little time left – he was going to pass from this life. Yet, Jesus lingered in taking any action. In fact, all he did do was to say, basically, that God would be glorified. God would be glorified?
So Lazarus died. And even Jesus was sad – along with all of the friends and acquaintances of Lazarus. I supposed that Jesus was sad because everyone else was sad – sadness spreads, doesn’t it? Each person comforted each other after the loss. Just like today, isn’t it? When someone passes, we are sad and experience loss. We hurt. We grieve. We feel for each other. And we try to comfort each other. But it still feels horrible. And of course, it is horrible. Like with Regina. She’s gone. And it’s horrible.
Then to the ones who were hurting, Jesus said something that I am hanging my whole entire existence upon. My hope that I can see Regina again someday. My hope for my sons and daughters and their children. My hope for friends and acquaintances that I care deeply for.
My hope comes from these words of Jesus.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV)
Yes. I do.
Happy New Year.