Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Faith and Obedience in Hopeless Circumstances

 Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now 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. John 11:1-6

Faith and Obedience in Hopeless Circumstances

We spend so much time asking God for things, but do we really ever think about what God wants from us? He wants many things from us – He wants a relationship with us, He wants to be our Lord and Savior, and He wants to be first place in our lives. But there is something else He wants from us. He wants us to have faith in Him and to walk obediently in that faith. He wants us to remember that He is a promise keeping God – and stake everything on that when the time comes. 

It sounds pretty easy, and it is when everything is going great. It gets tricky when our lives are in upheaval, and we don’t know what is going to happen next. That is when real faith kicks in. In Sam’s sermon Sunday, we hear about two sisters, Mary and Martha. Their brother, Lazarus, is sick, and they call for Jesus, because Jesus was close to them, and He loved them very much. They knew that He would want to know that Lazarus was very sick, and they knew He would come. To their dismay, Jesus did not come right away, and Lazarus died. 

By the time Jesus got there, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Both sisters told Jesus that if He had come right away, then their brother would still be alive, but Martha grieved in hope because, despite the circumstances, she still had faith in Jesus. She had faith in Him because she believed He was who He said He was, not necessarily because she thought He would bring her brother back to life because at that time she did not know that was going to happen. 

Mary did not grieve with the same hope as Martha. She could only see that her brother was dead and that was the end. She could not remember the promise of who Jesus was, she could only see what He did not do. At an earlier time, Jesus was having dinner with Mary and Martha, and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus soaking up every word He said. For Mary, it was very easy for her to have faith in Jesus when she was sitting at His feet, but when her brother died and she felt like He had let her down, she was struggling with her faith. 

It is like that for us so many times. It is easy to feel as if God does not care about us when we are in the middle of difficult times. When we have prayed and prayed, and it seems as if He is ignoring us, it does feel as if we have been abandoned by the One who is supposed to love us the most. We may think things like, “Why doesn’t He answer my prayers if He really loves me? Why would He let this happen to me if He cared? Doesn’t He see me? Doesn’t He hear me? I know He could stop this if He wanted to.”   We feel unloved because we cannot find any proof in our circumstances. We hurt because what is happening, and we hurt because it seems He is not going to help us. 

Jesus did bring Lazarus back to life that day because that was the plan all along. It was the plan for Lazarus to die and be brought back to life so that God would be glorified, and the people would believe that Jesus was who He said He was. It is so hard go through circumstances where it seems there is no hope, but like Martha, if we believe God is who He says He is, then we can walk obediently in faith through these times. We know that there is hope because we know that God is who He says He is. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. John 11:25-26

Even when if feels like God is not showing up for us, He is always with us. He never leaves our side, and when times are hard and we are hurting, He is never ignoring us, no matter how it feels. The truth is that no one has or ever will love you like He does. He has been faithful, and He will be faithful. Will loved ones die? Will there be times we hurt at the hands of others? Will there be times we feel buried so deep that we cannot see the way through? The answer to all of these questions is yes. These are the times when we need to turn to God, because He wants us to know Him, His glory, and His love are all for us, even if His actions don’t feel like it. 

It is important to know that God’s actions serve to reveal His character, but sometimes we begin to look for the provision that God gives more than we look to the provider.  - Sam Nobles

God wants us to trust Him and walk in faith and obedience no matter what happens in our lives. He wants us to know that we can always trust who He is, even if He doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should. He is the only place we can find true hope and in faithful obedience we can lay it all at His feet, walk in faith, and trust Him for the outcome. This is how faith and obedience work together.

Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  Hebrews 11:6

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