Have you ever been through a crisis? Maybe you’re going through one now.
There are three important lessons we can learn in John 11 about how to hang on in times of crisis. Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus is critically ill. Much to his disciple’s astonishment, Jesus doesn’t run to heal him, but stays for two days before leaving. When Jesus arrived in Bethany, home of Lazarus and his two sisters, He learns that Lazarus died four days earlier.
Lesson 1: God's timing is always perfect.
God's never early, never late, but always on time. Our timing isn't God's timing. For us, God's timing often feels like a long, desperate delay.
God's perfect timing does two things: It grows our faith as we are forced to wait and trust in God and it makes certain that He, and He alone, gets the glory and praise for pulling us through. "My times are in Your hands ..." Psalm 31:15.
At the right time, God will provide your need. At the right time, God will deliver you. At the right time, God will rescue you.
At the RIGHT time. His time!
Lesson 2: God's ways are not our ways.
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9.
God has eternal perspective! God is the great "I AM" (Yahweh) who knows the past, present and future. And what do we know? Nothing really. Nothing compared to God. If I were Jesus, I would've healed Lazarus right away. But Jesus wanted to stretch the faith of His disciples who after His death would be the catalysts to taking the message of Christ to the world. They knew Jesus had the power to heal people — but to raise a 4 day old corpse? Come on, that's taking faith to a whole new level.
Knowing that God's ways aren't my ways means I have to put all my faith and trust in His ways.
Lesson 3: God always has the final say.
No matter how terrible and impossible the situation appears, how awful you feel, or how there appears to be no answer, no help, no hope, God will see you through because He and He alone has the final say.
We put periods in our lives where God puts commas. We think it's over, period: Our marriages, our families, our jobs, our health, our futures. But God puts a comma in those places because it's not over until He says it's over.
Lazarus was dead and decaying for four days in that tomb. That's more than a period, that's an exclamation mark! But it wasn't over. God put a comma in that place. And Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, his organs functioning, the rotting skin is made new again.
And Jesus will take what has died in you and raise it from the dead! He will see us through the crisis, not just barely surviving, but victorious. Victors, not victims. Champions, not chumps. Winners, not whiners. Stop putting periods where God puts commas.
The world put a period after Jesus's crucifixion and death. But God always has the last say. On the third day, Sunday morning, God raised Jesus from the dead and He's alive! "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ... But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Because of Jesus Christ, death and the grave no longer have the last say in our lives. Jesus has the last say. And because He lives, if you trust in Him and put your lives in His hands, you're going to live too!
The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.