Friday, February 21, 2014

Growing Big Faith - Pivotal Circumstances

God uses circumstances that seem to have no good purpose to grow your faith.

John 11:11-15  Then He said, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up."  12  The disciples said, "Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!"   

13  They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.   

14  So He told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.  15  And for your sakes, I'm glad I wasn't there, for now you will really believe. Come, let's go see him."

In this very familiar story we find the best example of God using difficult circumstances to work out something good in our spiritual journey. Jesus received a message that one of his best friends is dying and everybody is surprised that he doesn't do something to save him. At the very least we expect Jesus to heal Lazarus by remote control. He could have easily spoke it and sent the messenger back with the good news but he didn't do anything at all.

Imagine Mary and Martha caring for their brother and stopping to take a look down the street every now and then to see if Jesus was on the way. Imagine the hurt as they recalled the thousands of people that Jesus healed. Didn't he heal a Roman? So where is he? Imagine answering their friends when they were asked over and over again, "where is your friend Jesus?"
John 11:14-15  So He told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.  15  And for your sakes, I'm glad I wasn't there, for now you will really believe. Come, let's go see him."
Belief is very important so Jesus used this situation for the disciples benefit. A situation that he seems to have created on purpose. Belief is more important than answered prayer and healing, more important that sparing Lazarus a death that may have been painful. Belief is more important than sparing Mary and Martha the emotional turmoil that they endured. Imagine the pain that they and their extended family and friends felt as they mourned.

They didn't have theology yet to explain that this situation may have some benefit for somebody. Even if they did there isn't anything comforting about theology. Even Jesus was moved to tears in this situation even though he understood the purpose for all of the pain.
John 11:25-26  Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.  26  Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?"
Jesus ask us the same question he asked Martha, "do you believe?" Do you believe in me even though the circumstances are not easy, even though your prayers were not answered and your friends mocked you? How do you know you have faith if it is never tested?
John 11:39-40  "Roll the stone aside," Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man's sister, protested, "Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible."  40  Jesus responded, "Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believe?"
We prefer that God get the glory through a positive experience in our life, isn't it more fun to score the winning touchdown and stop for a moment to give him credit for our talents, we prefer to stay comfortable while we give God the glory.
James 1:2-4  Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Pivotal circumstances are usually painful circumstances that can make or break our faith. We have all prayed and waited for Jesus to do something but as we wait the situation gets worse and we are tempted to forget about our faith. Will you endure and flex your faith muscle or will you walk away?

Our community of Christian friends should help encourage us to keep the faith and grow instead of walking away. The people that come beside us on our journey of faith will help us see that life is hard and sometimes it is hard because God is working on growing our faith.