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Can we accept that God will work His
miracles at His pace and time and in ways different from what we ask?
When we pray, we want the result to be immediate. Even when we have strong faith in God that what we ask is in accordance with His will, we must still learn to accept the fact that He will work His miracles at His pace and time and in His ways. The story of Lazarus (John 11:1-44 NJB) demonstrated this very clearly.
Lazarus was sick and the sisters sent this message to Jesus, Lord, the man you love is ill (v.3). The implication is that they wanted Jesus to heal him. Jesus heard their prayer and delayed answering. Yet when he heard that he was ill He stayed where He was for two more days (v.6). Lazarus, Mary and Martha are the people whom Jesus loves and stay with often, still adversity happened to them. Bad things do happen even to those whom Jesus loves! Three times in this chapter we are told that Jesus loves Lazarus. (v.3,5,36) Why does He allow Mary and Martha or us to suffer? Sometime there is a greater purpose to suffering than for God to end our suffering. Suffering develops our faith in Him.
Why does Jesus delay? One reason for His delay is for us to come to have complete faith in Him. Jesus delay in answering our prayers is never due to indifference or an inability to act. His delays and His Ways can be confusing because the process God uses to accomplish His will can go against our human logic and common sense. His delay has as its purpose the development of our trust in Him and for our good.
Lazarus was dead for four days. For four days Mary and Martha were in agony and in hopeless and helpless grief over the death of their loved one, Lazarus. Why does Jesus allow such grief to the people He loves? Jesus did not enjoy in the least seeing His loved ones suffer. In fact, Jesus wept (v.35). But Jesus focus was on the big picture and the purpose of God that would be accomplished. It took one day to travel to where Jesus was to inform Him that Lazarus was sick. By the time Jesus was informed Lazarus was already dead. Jesus knew that God would be glorified to a far greater extent by the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus knew that His disciples, as well as Mary and Martha, would experience quantum leap in faith because He resurrected Lazarus.
What reasons do we need before we will develop a deep faith in Jesus? Do we believe intellectually, based on what the Bible says that God has the power to answer our prayer but lack the personal faith to believe that God will exercise it now on our behalf? Before Jesus could work His miracle, He had to challenge Martha to demonstrate her faith through sheer obedience to His command to take away the stone (v.39). Had Martha argued and not removed the stone, there would have been no miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus.
What are the stones Jesus commands us to remove? Jesus commands us:
to remove the stones of doubt
to remove the stones of rage
to remove the stones of fear
to remove the stones of unforgiveness
to remove the stones of unkindness
to remove the stones of hypocrisy
to remove the stones of nagging tongue
to remove the stones of revenge
to remove the stones of envy
to remove the stones of pride
to remove the stones of iniquity
to remove the stones of jealousy
to remove the stones of selfishness
to remove the stones of self-pity,
to remove the stones in our stony hearts, etc
before He will
work His miracles on us. The
story of Lazarus is a story of faith and the necessity of placing that faith on
Jesus for the miracle to happen.
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