Ever feel like a situation is draining away your life? Feeling powerless or hopeless? Ever feel like your appeals to God are somehow lost or ignored? Are you frustrated that God seems to intervene for others, but is strangely distant or absent from your situation? If so, you are in good company and this story should bring you comfort and hope.
This past Easter Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking about the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. As the story unfolds in John 11, it appears that Jesus is strangely tardy in response to a sincere request for help from a family he loved. The narrative begins with an appeal sent to Jesus by two sisters, Mary and Martha, requesting his help with their ailing brother. Though these siblings were devoted followers and personal friends of Jesus, he appears to arrive too late. The once ill and worsening Lazarus' has now been dead for four days.
Upon his arrival to Bethany, Jesus is met by a frustrated and grieving Martha, who seems confused about why it took so long for him to get there. Little did she know that Jesus had no intention of this sickness ending in death for Lazarus. He then delivers a declaration to Martha that hints to both a reversal of the current state of Lazarus and a sign of his power and authority over death proved by his own resurrection from the grave after His soon-to-be execution on the cross. He says to Martha,,
"I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."
Remarkably, it is in this context that Jesus performs his greatest miracle on this side of the Cross; The raising of Lazarus to life after being for days dead.
As part of my Easter message I referenced a recent TED Talk titled, "The Price of Shame" by the once "crucified and buried" Monica Lewinsky. For those not familiar with her very public story, the now 41 year old Lewinsky was then at the center of a 1998 sex scandal with President Bill Clinton that rocked our political world and sent a 22 year old woman spiraling into a very dark pit of shame. Being in my mid-20s at the time, the story exploded with the dawning of digital media. I admit my zealous faith was quick to judge her and I'm sure felt justified to throw a few "stones" if at least only in my mind.
Irregardless of her actions long ago, I am deeply moved by her recent talk. Admittedly, I have no way of knowing if she has an active faith, yet believe she has shown great courage in the face of such public humiliation and personal suffering. I celebrate that Monica wasn't destroyed by her actions at 22 and hope that somehow the Holy Spirit is involved in the process of reclaiming of her narrative. Her story reminds me of how much our world needs to know the Savior who promises resurrection and new life in the face of humanity's worst moments. One who can redeem the Adversary's intent to steal our true identity, kill our God-given potential and destroy our eternal destiny (John 10:10).
I pray that in times of weakness and vulnerability that you will find Jesus doing his best work. May you find the voice of Jesus saying to you, "I am the resurrection and the life" and know that He can overcome your darkest nights and enable you to thrive another day. Because of the cross, it is Jesus who has the AUTHORITY to deal with the THIEF, the POWER to overcome DEATH and the commitment to deliver on the promise of HOPE for renewed life now and renewed life for eternity.
John 5:24 New International Version (NIV)
24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
John 10:10 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus said, the Enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but that He came that we might have life... Life eternally and life abundantly.
1 Peter 1:3-4 New International Version (NIV)
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.”