Author Julie-Allyson Ieron offers devotional thoughts and Bible-based encouragement to overwhelmed caregivers of aging parents and other relatives.
Julie is the author of more than two dozen books, including The Overwhelmed Woman's Guide to ... Caring for Aging Parents. (www.womencareforagingparents.com)
Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
God, why don’t You step in and do something?
If you’ve ever had trouble
understanding why the loving God you serve with all your heart would wait to answer your prayers—or fail to
act on your behalf—then this week’s observations are especially for you.
God, do You see me flailing about in the dark waters,
about to drown?
God, have You forgotten that I’m out here? God, do You care?
How often do we, in any dark
night of the soul, whisper prayers of desperation like these? And when it is
our loved one suffering, and we know God could
help, He could bring healing or comfort
or energy or strength or courage or victory, but we feel Him only from afar and
then He chooses not to act—it is then especially that we are susceptible to
discouragement, to faltering faith, to stumbling into despair.
Oh, my flawed, human heart,
how it longs to understand the mysteries of God and yet how blind it is to His
real activity, His real purposes that are so much grander, so far superior to
what I think ought to be.
Musings like these led me to
a familiar passage in the Gospel of John—a passage whose meat I’ve been quick
to pass by, instead rushing on to the dessert of the eventual answered prayer.
It’s the story of the death of Lazarus. Notice, I said the death and not the raising.
For if we skip too soon to the end of the story, we’ll miss a key lesson about
the way God works so often in our lives. Or at least that’s what I’d been doing
for so long.
As I read, I keyed in on a
troubling series of two verses—troubling, because it blows out of the water
every preconception I have about how God’s love ought to operate. Check it out
in John 11:5-6:
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place
where he was. (ESV)
In the Greek it’s even
stronger. That word we translate as now,
actually is a transition word that’s more like “on the contrary.” As in: you
might think this sounds contrary to what’s true, but for sure Jesus loved the
Lazarus family. And the phrase he stayed
is a two-word phrase that means something like he really stayed. As in: you might be incredulous, here, but I
assure you it’s true when I tell you he stayed put for two days. (We lose so
much in our bland English language!)
Jesus loved these three, He waited far away from them and let events unfold
that they found dismaying, grieving, absolutely inconsistent with their
previous relationship with Him. How could He do this to them, of all people—they’d fed Him, hosted Him in their home,
offered friendship and service and attentiveness. They’d believed in Him. And this was how He repaid them? They sent word to
Him in faith believing, and instead, they got a Master who stayed away and let
the enemy of death have its say in their lives.
Ouch! I feel their pain, don’t
you? It may be the enemy of death or unemployment or financial worries or
health concerns or pained relationships. Whatever it is in your life, you may just
be in a season when the Master isn’t doing anything to resolve it.
Or … so it seems.
But scoot back one verse, and
He actually explains that this is
going to happen and why this is going
to happen (before it does!) I like the way the NASB renders Jesus’
pre-explanation: “This sickness is not
to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be
glorified by it” (John 11:4).
Anyone who was truly
listening to the Master would have heard that the end of the matter wasn’t what
it seemed. There was a higher purpose involved here, one of ultimate intent—one
that would do what God deems so important—show His hand at work, bring glory to
Himself, and draw hearts to trust Him. (Don’t believe me? Skip down to v. 45: “Therefore many of the Jews who came to
Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.”
So, my grieving, exhausted,
in-need-of-reassurance friend, God loves you. And it may be that because of that love, He’s working
behind the scenes on your behalf—on a project that will not only bring ultimate
good to you, but ultimate glory to Him.
Take comfort, treasured one,
in the knowledge that just because you don’t feel Him near, God isn’t at all
surprised or unwilling to act on your behalf. He’ll do it—His way, in His time.
I see it in the story of Lazarus and his sisters—and I’ve seen it in obvious
evidence recently in my own situation. Take it from Lazarus and Martha and
Mary, take it from the apostle John—and if you must, take it from me—because He
loves you, He will intervene on your behalf. Hang on with all that’s in you
until He does.