How Jesus Helps Us in Seasons of Suffering
Two years ago last week, WHO declared a global pandemic as COVID spread across the world. People stopped driving and gas dropped almost overnight to $1.25 per gallon. Now the pandemic seems to be squarely in the rearview mirror, but we have another global crisis with war in the Ukraine. Now gas is at $4.25 per gallon! What a difference a couple of years makes. The truth is, this life always has plenty to stress over, and most of the time, it’s a lot worse than the price of gas!
One thing we can count on in this world is that we will experience heartache, despair and suffering; that is a sad reality. But Jesus offers us help in seasons of suffering… help we will never receive apart from Him. In John 11, that becomes crystal clear.
Raising Lazarus from the dead is the seventh of seven signs that John gives in his Gospel to demonstrate Jesus’ divinity. While all of these signs are truly remarkable, no doubt this one is the most remarkable! Let’s take a look at John 11 to discover How Jesus Helps Us in Seasons of Suffering.
Dearness and nearness to Jesus doesn’t make anyone immune from suffering. (John 11:1-7)
Despite the fact that Jesus loved this family, they still suffered. If these folks, who Jesus clearly had a very special relationship with suffered, who are we to think we shouldn’t or wouldn’t? You may ask, but why? Because this world is far from perfect. It is not heaven. Pain and suffering are a part of life. But while nearness and dearness to Jesus doesn’t exempt us from trouble…
God comforts those near to Him when we suffer. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
God is the Father of compassion. He is the God of all comfort. The Greek word for “comfort” means “one who comes alongside to help.” It refers to the Holy Spirit. In context, the Apostle Paul meant that God gave him boldness and courage when He faced trouble and suffering.
God doesn’t just pat us on the back when we are in pain; He lifts us up! He encourages us, He emboldens us, He enables us to carry on when everything in us and around us screams to just give up! And to be clear, God comforts us for a purpose… so that we can be used by Him to comfort others in the same way we have been comforted.
Maybe you really need God’s comfort today. He is ready to draw near to you. Maybe there is someone in your life who needs to be comforted. Will you reach out to them today?
Jesus’ friends were suffering and they reached out to Him for help. Jesus planned to go, but not in the time they thought He should or would. In fact, He waited two days after getting the news that Lazarus was sick, before He went to check on him. Why the delay?
God’s delays aren’t necessarily denials. (John 11:11-27)
Have you ever prayed, asking God for something and He didn’t do exactly what you thought He should in exactly the way you thought He could? Sure you have; we all have. We can be pretty demanding of God. We can even paint a picture in our minds of how things should go and then expect God to follow our specific timeline, which is usually, right now! We want healing now, we want restoration now, we want hardships to end now. And when there is a delay, we might wrongly think God doesn’t care or that He has forgotten us, or that He is not listening. God’s delays aren’t necessarily denials…
God’s delays are on purpose.
God doesn’t do random, haphazard or unintentional. After Jesus heard about Lazarus’s sickness, He waited two more days before going. Why would He wait? The truth is, when you don’t get what you asked from God when you expected it, it doesn’t mean God is not at work or the answer will never come.
In fact, The Lord longs to be gracious to you. (Is. 30:18a) He is not out to hurt you, or harm you, or smite you. He wants to show you grace and compassion. Isaiah tells us: Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18d). His timing may not be your timing. His plan may not be your plan. His will may be later, not now. In the meantime, will you faithfully trust that there is purpose in His delays?
Maybe you’ve been praying about something that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe you have a nagging problem or situation that hasn’t been resolved yet. Maybe you’re searching for a remedy that seems clear to you, but it hasn’t come, yet? Will you wait on the Lord? Will you trust His timing? There is purpose in God’s delays. It may not be easy, but believe God is still at work. There was a purpose in Jesus’ delay to get to His friend. He had a much bigger plan than “healing” Lazarus.
For much more, including Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead and what that means for you and me, click here to listen to: Light in the Darkness - Part 11 - How Jesus Helps Us in Seasons of Suffering.