Summary: This message based around the story of Lazarus will share five essential principles to making it though difficult times in our lives!

When Disaster Strikes John 11:1-45

The following was written by Jack Jordan newspaper editor recording the events of April 3, 1974.

An uneasiness nagged at me as I checked over proofs for the next day’s paper. It was Wednesday, April 3, 1974 about 4 o’clock on a gray afternoon. More than 100 tornadoes had been sighted to the southwest. We had had such warnings before the twisters had always missed Xenia, Ohio.

Suddenly the radio crackled: “Tornado! Southwest of town, expected in six minutes.” I leapt from desk and hurried out into our office which faces the main downtown street. Police shouted “Take Cover” through bullhorns. Already white faced shoppers and business people were streaming into our new annex building for the protection of its steel beam and thick concrete construction.

suddenly an ominous green darkened the street. A rumbling roar like a thousand freight trains crossing the ceiling filled the building with a grinding thunder. Our street doors flew open, I rushed to close them and found myself looking up into a black k swirling sea of debris and giant tress. I fought my way back and threw myself down on the stairs among the other praying and sobbing people.

Then an eerie stillness filled the air. The monster had passed. My family and home were two miles away. I ran to my convertible, its windows sucked out, I sat in broken glass and drove down the street. There were no more streets , just mountains of debris and dazed and confused people wandering around. After making sure that my family was okay, I returned to the newspaper office.

The tornado had bulldozed a seven mile path half a mile wide right through Xenia, Ohio. 33 men, women, and children were dead. Almost half of Xenia’s buildings were destroyed. Nearly 10,000 people were homeless. Six of nine schools were smashed, nine churches, and 180 stores and businesses were destroyed.

In the coming months the city would pull together and begin to rebuild houses, businesses, churches, schools, and lives. One afternoon, seven months later I walked downtown and remembered the houses that owners had spray painted with the words “Oh God, why us?” and “Only God knows.” And I remember what Dick Pope a minister had said at an Easter celebration just eleven days after the tornado. “For the first time people are really going to understand what resurrection is about. You have to realize that Christ was even more effective after the resurrection than before. And this storm can be a turning point for this town. The Christian faith does not promise that we will not have suffering, but it does create the character in us that can face it and know how to use it.”

I want to talk to you today about our lives and how we deal with it when disaster comes into our lives. Whether it is a natural disaster like a tornado, or a health disaster like cancer, whether it is relationship disasters like a broken marriage, whatever the disaster do we respond and what do we do to make it through the disaster.

2 Corinthians tells us that God is the God of all comfort. That he has the power and the willingness to see us through all the disasters that life may bring us. The bottom line of what I want to say this morning is this...

When the going gets tough, the tough get God.

Now I don’t mean that we only need God in the difficult times, We need him all the time and should walk with him all the time, trust him all the time, rely on him all the time. What I am saying is that when a disaster comes we better have a shelter that is storm worthy to protect us. We better have a relationship with the almighty God that will shield us and protect us and deliver us through any storm.

When the going gets tough, the tough get God.

This morning we will look at a story where two sisters who facing a horrible disaster in their lives did just that. I want us to look at the story of Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus and I want us to see five things you and I need to remember in a time of crisis.

We find this story in John 11. Jesus was very close friends with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Lazarus gets sick. His sisters send word to Jesus. Jesus does not immediately go to Lazarus. By the time Jesus does arrive in Bethany where Lazarus, Mary, and Martha are, Lazarus has been in the tomb four days.

Martha and Mary are distraught and grieving, asking Jesus “Why didn’t you come? If you had just been here, our brother would be alive. Jesus assures them that this is not the end. He goes to the tomb, prays to God, and Lazarus arises from the tomb.

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