Through The Wringer
God's purpose of putting you through the wringer is that He might get the glory and Jesus might be glorified. This is the end result of anything you're experiencing.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright today? Bless your heart, I hope so. Well, I’m fine, thank you, and just glad to be back with you to share from God’s Word. I’m hitting the high spots in some of these chapters in the Gospel of John before we finally leave it and go to some other passage of Scripture. We look at the 11th chapter, which is the story of a man named Lazarus who fell ill, and concerning whom his two sisters, Mary and Martha, sent a message to our Lord Jesus saying, “Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick.” And when He heard that, He stayed two days still in the same place where He was.
Now, He is beyond Jordan in the place where John had first baptized, so He was a good many miles away from where they lived in Bethany, which is right near Jerusalem. Well, He said, “This sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” Strange that He would say that for He knew already that Lazarus was going to die. So you have to just insert a little word in there, not for death only, but for the glory of God. See, there is the difference.
God leads us through the rough times, which oftentimes may include the loss of a loved one, in order that He might demonstrate to us His wonderful love and glorious power, and that God might get the glory. Now, I don’t like it when God treats me to that kind of trials, neither indeed do you. And any kind of moralizing, in a time when your heart is breaking, always is a little hollow, isn’t that true? You’ve been very close to your mother, let us say, and now at age, let’s say… Well, Grandma Nilsen was just turning 90 when she died. She would have been 90 in 16 days from the time that she died. And she’d been very close to all of us, and especially to my wife, Coreen, and now she’s gone. Well, people would come in and they make little speeches, “Well, she lived a good life and it’s better that she’s gone,” and this and that. It was sort of empty, you know. I don’t discount the sympathy of friends, God bless them, I’m grateful for them. But when your heart is aching, you need somebody to express love and you need the solid consciousness that God is still on the job, and that He’s gonna see you through, isn’t it true?
I remember when Bill Miller passed away. I hurried on over to say hello to Martha, his wife, and to Bruce, his son, and found them there in the living room of their home. And I went up to Bruce and I gave him a big hug and I whispered in his ear, I said, “I’m sorry, Bruce, my heart aches for you. God bless you, I love you.” And that was it. Well, weeks later he came up to me and he said, “You know, I’m glad about one thing,” and I said, “What is that?” He said, “I’m so glad you didn’t try to preach me a sermon.” He said, “Somebody else had been there just before you and they preached a little sermon and it just didn’t… Well, it didn’t feel very good.” Isn’t that interesting? We preachers can learn a lot, can’t we, if we just listen to people? What folk need when their hearts are aching, and that includes you and me too, doesn’t it? It’s not somebody to sermonize but somebody to love and express faith in God. Dynamic faith, that is, not just a little pietistic moral sermon. You follow me in that? So the next time you’re up against a situation where somebody has had sorrow, or accident, or trouble of some sort, express your love and point to Jesus, alright?
Anyhow, the message came and He just stuck around two more days, which gave time then for Lazarus to be worse and then to be buried. By the time the Lord Jesus got to Bethany he had been in the grave four days already. Well, both Mary and Martha felt that the timing of that whole thing was wrong and Martha went out and she verbalized it first, she said, “Lord, you blew it, you’re too late. You should have been here sooner because you could have healed Lazarus. If you’d been here, he wouldn’t have died,” which of course is true. Or Christ could have said a word even where He was, beyond Jordan, He could have said a word of healing and the man would have recovered, but that wasn’t part of the plan, was it?
Jesus said, “Well, your brother will rise again.” She said, “I know he’ll rise again in the resurrection at the last day but that doesn’t help me now. I keep setting three places at the table instead of two, I keep trying to straighten up his room but it’s never mussed up. I keep listening for his footstep outside and the little tuneless whistle he had, but I never hear him. My heart’s broken and you should’ve been here, you could have healed him, you could have spared us all this.” That’s what she was saying. In any time of sorrow it’s just human for us to have the what ifs, if it had only been different. You’ve been through that, some of you, haven’t you? If it had only been different.
I felt that way when my father died, back in 1954. July 15, 1954. He had been in the old soldiers’ home for some years since 19, I think, 49. He was blind from glaucoma and that was an excellent setup for him, because he had constant care and enough discipline to make him eat right and keep reasonably regular habits. So it was alright, he was well taken care of, because I was on the road all the time and I couldn’t take care of him. So we were doing all right by him and I would come see him now and again, he would say to me sometimes wistfully, “I wish you could come a little oftener, boy. I get so lonesome to see you.” And I’d say, “Well, Pop, I wish I could too, but I’m on the road all the time.” Well, he was gone one July morning. I had been in an all night of prayer and finished the all night of prayer with a sunrise communion service on the hillside at Winona Lake and the phone call came about 6:30 saying that my father had passed away. Well, when he’s gone, he’s gone. You can’t go back and do it over.
And I remember thinking, “I wish I had gone to see him oftener, wish I’d written him oftener, wish I’d called him and had him brought to the phone so I could talk to him oftener.” Well, you can’t go back and relive it, which leads me to say pay more attention, will you? To your mother and dad, and to grandma and grandpa while you got ’em, because when they’re gone you won’t be able to go back and do it over. Yeah. So when you’re facing sorrow, you… All of us, I guess, go through the, “Well, if I only had… If I only had… If only… ” kind of a syndrome. And that’s human. But you have to realize that that isn’t the whole story. God is doing something. As in this case, God was doing something far beyond the expectations of Mary and Martha. The Lord Jesus didn’t have a healing in mind, He had a resurrection in mind, something glorious, something that would be a tremendous testimony and would cause many people to believe on Him and thus receive eternal life.
So always count on God’s prior plans. Did you get that? Always count on God’s prior plans, that is something He’s planned already that affects what you are going through now. No, you can’t see it right now but you will see it. He said, “What I do thou knowest not now but thou shalt know hereafter.” And so with those words of our Savior ringing in our ears, let’s trust God who has made plans. He said, “I know the thoughts I think towards you, thoughts of good not of evil to give you a desired end.” God is the God of the future. He does plan for us. So you trust Him for that. Amen.
Well, Mary came and said the same thing. “If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” “Well,” He said, “Show me where you laid him.” It’s time now for action, and He went to the grave and cried with the rest of them. “Jesus wept,” is one of the short, I guess it is the shortest verse in the Bible, a delight to those who are asked to quote a Scripture verse. I remember how as little boys we would always quote John 11:35 [chuckle] Well, I’ll tell you, it has a great deal of meaning in it, in that word “wept” means He wailed a lot. It broke Him up to see the sorrow of those dear ones around Him.
So He takes away the stone and then He said, “Lazarus, come on out.” Now, Lazarus was wrapped up in grave cloth, that is to say, his whole body was wrapped round and round and round with yards and yards of fine linen, which had been interspersed with many spices. That’s the way they buried their dead. So when it says, “Lazarus came forth,” that means he was brought out by the power of those words. He didn’t walk out. Couldn’t. He was brought out and laid there before them all. And the Lord Jesus said, “Now you take off the grave clothes, loose him. Let him go.” And so you can just see them, taking off those windings, and you can just see the look of surprise and delight on their faces when, as they took away the covering of his head and his face, they saw his eyes open and saw a smile there and then heard him speak. Lazarus brought back from the dead.
Now, can you apply that in your own life? And if you can, will you? If you’re anything like me, it’s typical for us to sort of grovel in our own misery, instead of applying the laws of faith and trust. When I’m hurting, when everything has fallen apart, it’s hard for me to realize that God has something else and better in mind. And yet I have to tell you, every time in my life, every time I have been complaining to God about something, it turned out that He was preparing something better for me, and I think that’s true of us all. Would you dare to believe God today that His delays are part of His plans? And that your heartache, and your frustration, and the hurt you feel, and maybe the anger that wells up within you, would you dare to believe God for the fact that He’s doing something in your life? He wants to give you an experience that’s tremendous, and great, and blessed, and triumphant.
He said, “This sickness is not for death only but for the glory of God and that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” God’s purpose in putting you through the wringer is that He might get the glory and Jesus might be glorified. That is the end result of anything you’re experiencing. The emphasis then is not on how you and I feel. The emphasis has to be on what is God doing. Paul lived that out. He was in jail when he wrote to the Philippians and he said, “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of the fact that my imprisonment has turned out rather for the preaching of the Gospel.” “Why,” he said, “My bonds in Christ are known in all the palace. Among all the guards, Christ is known.” And he said, “Many people have been made much more bold to preach Christ. Some do it to bug me.” [chuckle] Well, that’s the way we would put it today. But some of it do it sincerely.
“What then?” He said, “Either way Christ is preached and I therein do rejoice and will rejoice.” He said, “What’s happening to me? I’m in jail, I’m in handcuffs and in fetters, chains, and I am chained to a guard day and night, and there’s no comfort and there’s no privacy. I’m in jail.” But he said, “What has happened is that people are hearing about Jesus and I’m gonna rejoice in that,” said he. Rejoice? Man, you’re in jail. “Yes, I’m gonna rejoice because Jesus is getting the glory.” Now, that’s Paul the Apostle. I wanna be like that, do you? And if you do, will you take the first step of committing your present situation to the Lord Jesus Christ and trusting Him for His prior plans for you?
Dear Father, today, oh, wilt Thou give to us the grace to trust Thee, even under pressure, even in trouble, or sorrow, or heartache, knowing that You’ve got something planned for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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