Summary: Everyone faces tough times and trials. Too many times the answers we here are trite or condescending. But in the story of Lazarus we can find the meaningful truths that will allow us to rise from the difficulties of life.
Rising From Life’s Difficulties
Text: John 11:1-46
Illustration: Walking Dead – Hershel Greene -I can't profess to understand God's plan, Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.
Are things not quite what you had in mind?
Let me ask you the question, how many of your lives are going exactly as planned or as you envisioned 5 or 10 or even 20 years ago. With more than 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, with more than 53 million abortions since 1973, There are 643,067 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States, and 12.8 million people unemployed, many people have had to abandon their goals and dreams for the future to work to just to get by for today.
Illustration: In September 2010 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that “young baby boomers” (those born between 1957-1964) changed jobs, on average, 11 times between the ages of 18-44 and were expecting to make major career changes after age 50.
For many, if not all, of us, life hasn’t gone exactly as we planned. We are note where we thought we would be. Whether good or bad or indifferent, life threw a curve ball. Most often the change was difficult and costly. When you are in those difficult times of change, uncertainty, loss, and even despair, it is natural for us to ask, “Where is God?” or “What on earth is God doing?” or “Why isn’t God doing?” You may be in a relationship, a marriage that hasn’t turned out the way that you thought it would, and you are wondering if you can even make it. Your thinking “I vowed not to divorce, but murder…” Maybe your family situation has deteriorated and the well-rounded family you dreamt of becoming has been nothing but your worst nightmare. Or a few years ago, you were comfortable in your career and now it has been months since you even had an interview for a job, and none of them near the income you once earned. You feel like throwing in the towel and selling the house and moving on, but you can’t sell because the your now upside down. You believed in God much more when things were good (though probably ignored Him a bit) and now when it seems you need Him the most He seems silent. Distant. Why is God not rushing to help us? And when He does it seems to be too late? Why is God not delivering us from these difficult days as so many teeter on the edge of financial, emotional, and spiritual bankruptcy?
Personal Story – last several months
Read John 11:1-5
II. Practice #1: Remember God loves you and what you are going through will not end in death (vv. 1-5)
A. They did not give Lazarus’ name, but Jesus knew who they were talking about.
Lazarus is described as ‘the one You love.” That description is true for all of God’s children.
Lyrics: He Knows My Name
I have a Maker, He formed my heart, Before even time began, My Life was in His hands. (v. 2) I have a Father He calls me his own, He’ll never leave me, No matter where I go. Chorus: He knows my name, He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls, And hears me when I call.
Jeremiah 1:5 — “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
B. Principle to Remember: Jesus didn’t promise there would not be death, but that things would not end there.
Death may come in the form of unrealized dreams, unmet expectations, or failed situations. Maybe even in the physical death of someone, but it is not the end.
1 Corinthians 15:54–57 — When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 29:11 – most people forget that Jer. 29:11 follows Jer. 29:10. – “After the seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.” Jer. 29:6 – “I carried (you) into exile…” The exile must be completed in order for the promise to be fulfilled.
If physical death has been conquered by the death of Jesus Christ then how much more have spiritual, emotional and financial and every other form of death been overcome by His Resurrection!