Your Life: A Beautiful Story

Believe firmly that God has plans that are greater than your present distress.

Scripture: John 11:16


Alright. Thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. I use the words ‘advisedly,’ because somehow, I just give myself away to you. And so I’m glad for the privilege of sharing from God’s Word, God’s inerrant, infallible, eternal Word, the Bible. We’re in the Chapter 11 of the Gospel of John. Last time we got together, I was talking about the worst case scenario. Lazarus is dead. Did you take that in at all? Did you apply it to your life at all? The worst that can happen is already known to God. And His plans include seeing you victoriously through it. Lazarus is dead and I’m glad. It didn’t upset our Lord at all, what was happening, because He knew. John Chapter Six says, “He, Himself, knew what He would do.” He knew what His plans were, and that He was going to stand outside that cave, and call Lazarus forth, see that mummy wrapped body, wrapped entirely head to foot with linen wrapping, see that body coming out of the grave by itself. He didn’t walk out. It says, “He came forth.”

The Word and the power of the living Christ brought him out. And then our Savior said, “You better unwrap him. [chuckle] Give him some air.” Oh, beloved, what is it with you? You’ve got something that is… It’s the worst thing that could happen, is it? And it’s got you down, it’s got you worried, got you maybe a little angry, or even bitter. You wanna let the Lord Jesus into the scene? Let the Lord Jesus handle the worst case scenario in your life. I can promise you, He won’t drop you. He hasn’t brought you this far to dump you now. Let him handle the worst case, so that He can say in your case, “Lazarus is dead and I’m glad, because I let it happen, so that you can know, you can believe, you can commit yourself in faith to me.”

Thomas called Didymus is mentioned in Verse 16 of John Chapter 11. Now, we oftentimes think of Thomas as the doubter. You remember, he’s mentioned in John Chapter 20. Thomas said… “He wasn’t with them. Thomas called Didymus was not with them, when Jesus first appeared after His resurrection. And the disciples said, ‘We’ve seen the Lord.’ He said, ‘Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I’ll not believe.’ ” Well, the Lord showed up a week later and Thomas had his proof. But here is a man with very deep feelings. You have him saying something here in Chapter 11. You have him asking after the reality of the Father in Chapter… What is it, 14, isn’t it? Let me turn the pages here. You hear them rustling, don’t you? The pages of my big Bible. Thomas said, “Lord, we know not wither thou goest and how can we know the way?” Thomas was interested in the realities of eternal life. And Thomas had deep feelings as indicated by Verse 16 here. “Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’ ”

He had deep, deep, feelings. Don’t just remember the fact that he needed to be shown, in order to believe. We dwell on that, and say he was from Missouri, and he had to be shown. And the scripture says, “Blessed are they, who have not seen, and yet, have believed.” And we sort of put him down. I have a great deal of respect for this man, Thomas. He felt deeply. He was deeply loyal, and when he saw the nails being driven into the hands and feet of our Lord, and when he saw the spear with it’s gaping wound leaving the torn side of our Savior, something just died in him as well, you know that. Let’s give him the respect that he deserves.

A great disciple and one that felt very deeply about these things. Well, they went on their way, and when He came… “When Jesus came to Bethany, He found that Lazarus had already been in the grave four days.” That means that he had been dead four days, because they buried the same day. There was no period of hanging around in those days; many countries, it’s the same. Now, they bury the same day, so he had died four days before. Now, it says, “Bethany was near to Jerusalem, 15 furlongs,” that’s a mile and a half. 10 furlongs to the mile, 15 furlongs would be a mile and a half. “Many of the people came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother, so there was a crowd around.” Well, the grapevine worked, word of mouth works in small communities. “And when they saw the Lord Jesus with this small clump of disciples, with Him coming toward Bethany, someone passed the word along, ‘He’s here. He’s here.’ And Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary sat still in the house.”

Now, Martha speaks up. She’s Martha. She says, “Lord, if thou hast been here, my brother had not died.” “You blew it, Lord. You didn’t get here soon enough. If you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” What are you gonna do with that kind of a feeling? See, life isn’t fair. And you get into all sorts of situations, where you look back and say, “If this or that had only happened, if God had only done this or that, then things would be different.” Have you lived long enough to be through some of that? [chuckle] I’ll tell you, you live a few years, and it’ll hit you somewhere along the line, “If only this, or that, or the other had happened, then things would be different, and they’d be okay.” The hypothetical ‘if.’

When I was a boy, we used to joke and say, “If we had some ham, we’d have ham, and eggs, if we had some eggs.” We were poor and didn’t have either one. “If you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Well, that’s certainly true, but he wasn’t there. Oh, man, I can see in my mind’s eye, I can see Martha and Mary, looking out the window, saying, “I wonder if He’s coming? Look down the road, look down the road, see if he’s coming.” Then they’d hurry back into the sickroom and Lazarus was worse. They’d come out again, “Well, we sent Him word in time, He could be here. We sent the message in time. Is He coming?” They’d look again, “No, no sign of Him.” Go back into the sickroom, Lazarus is worse.

Finally, Lazarus is so sick and their hearts are breaking for this precious brother of theirs. And one of them goes to the window, or actually goes out the door, maybe, and says, “Let me see, see maybe he’s coming.” Looks down the road, nothing, nothing. Come back, Lazarus is gone. Their hearts break and the silence, the eloquent silence of death in a house… Did you ever go into a house where somebody’s died? It’s so silent. The silence of death is there. Their hearts are breaking and their tears are falling. And with it all, there’s this ‘if.’ “If He had only gotten here in time.” Boy, that’s rough. You know, beloved, some of you have gone, and maybe some of you are going through the type of thing, where you say to yourself, “If only God would have done something different, then it would be different.” Well, that’s true. I’ll tell you something. There is no comfort, nor is there any future in using the ‘if’ clause, when you’re in the middle of a heartbreaking situation, or some type of circumstance that is too much for you. There’s no comfort in that. It only makes you feel worse, so don’t do it.

Don’t resort to the ‘if’ clause, instead trust your Lord, who is never late. Because Jesus didn’t have a healing in mind, as you know, he had a resurrection in mind, far more glorious and more important. ‘If.’ “Lord, you blew it.” Jesus said, “Your brother shall rise again.” Martha said, “I know he’ll rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” And there was a falling off of the inflection in her statement. “I know he’s gonna rise at the last day.” What was she saying? “It doesn’t help me now, Lord. It doesn’t help me now. My heart’s broken. He’s gone. I keep straightening up in his room, but it’s never mussed up. I keep listening for his whistle as he comes toward the house, but I never hear it. I keep setting three places at the table, instead of two. It isn’t gonna help, Lord. I know that there’s a resurrection coming, but that doesn’t help me now.” What do you do with that? The words of people who come to comfort, they seem so empty, don’t they? And you appreciate their friendship. I know, I know that there’s a great deal of satisfaction in the tender words of a friend who comes to sympathize. I’ve been through that, and I know that, and I’m grateful for it. But down deep inside, that doesn’t really change the tragedy of having lost somebody who’s so very dear to you.

Now, what do you do about it? Well, the Lord Jesus said, “Listen, Martha, you’re looking at the wrong person. You’re looking at Lazarus. How about looking at me? I’m the resurrection. I’m the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou?” Then she said, “Yes, Lord. I believe.” That’s enough. She went on, turned on her heel, went back to the house, said, “Mary, you better go see Him. You need to see Him.” And Mary came with the same complaint. She went to see the Lord Jesus. And finally, there she was, she fell down at his feet, said, “Lord, if thou hast been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Well, this broke our Savior up, all of this human sorrow. Although he knew that he was going to raise Lazarus, he cared so deeply, that it just broke him up and he burst into tears. John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

Now, what do you make of all this? Number one, don’t use the ‘if’ clause. Don’t try to second guess God. Number two, believe firmly that God has plans, that are greater than your present distress. Jesus was heading for a resurrection. They didn’t know it, but He was. Number three, commit yourself to Him and let Him handle the situation. We’ll get at this again the next time we get together.

Father God, help us to count on Thy prior, beautiful plans. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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