Where were you, God? – Greg Laurie – www.worldnetdaily.com and www.harvest.org
 
Have you ever had a crisis so overwhelm you that you thought you could not survive? Have you ever faced a set of circumstances that you simply thought you would not be able to get through?
 
I have. When my son Christopher went to heaven just a few months ago, it was my worst nightmare come true. It seemed almost unbearable. But God was with our family, sustaining us in each moment through the most radical of circumstances. He has been helping us get through it each and every day.
 
The Bible tells the story of a tight-knit family who also had a loved one die. They were friends of Jesus, and he would frequent their home in Bethany, near Jerusalem. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were three people who could honestly say that Jesus was their personal friend. But one day, Lazarus became gravely ill. So they did what every person ought to do in times of crisis: they sent word to Jesus to do something about it.
 
What we first learn from this story is that life is filled with pain, sorrow, sickness and the death of loved ones. When we are younger, we don’t necessarily understand this. But as we get older, our grandparents will die, then our parents will die, and then, as we age, our day will eventually come.
 
But then there are those unexpected deaths, such as the death of a spouse or a sibling, or someone who is close to us in age. Suddenly we are made aware of our own mortality. That was the case with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Suddenly one of them was deathly ill.
 
This brings us to the next thing we learn from this story, which is that God loves us. And God will never allow anything to happen in the lives of his children that is not motivated by his everlasting love. God says, "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself" (Jeremiah 31:30 NLT).
 
Mary and Martha knew they were loved by Jesus. But they didn’t say, "Lord, the one who is devoted to you is sick," or even, "The one who loves you is sick." Rather, they said, "Lord, the one you love is sick" (John 11:3 NIV). This is a good thing to remember when we appeal to God: Never appeal on the basis of our devotion, because our love is fickle. Rather, we should appeal to God on the basis of his love for us. Mary and Martha didn’t even tell him what to do. They didn’t say, "So rush over here and do something now." They simply said, "Lord, the one you love is sick."
 
I find it interesting that in the original language, they used the Greek word phileo, which means brotherly love. But then we are told that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus" (John 11:5 NIV). The Greek word used here for "love" is agape. This is a different kind of love than phileo. It is God’s supernatural, all-consuming love.
 
God’s love for us may be demonstrated in ways we don’t always understand. Because Jesus loved Lazarus, he delayed his trip to Bethany. It doesn’t really make sense when you look at it, but God wanted to do more than Mary and Martha expected.
 
We live in the here and now, while God lives in the eternal. We are interested in what will benefit us right now, but God is thinking about the big picture. We will ask for certain things that seem to work for our lives or make them more comfortable, but God is looking at the broader picture.
 
And that is exactly what was happening in the lives of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. God was about to demonstrate this in a different way altogether. So Lazarus died. And by the time Jesus arrived in town, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha, who was not one to hold her tongue, went out to meet Jesus. She said, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died." To loosely paraphrase, "Where were you anyway, Jesus?"
 
Maybe you have said that in so many words: Where were you when my marriage dissolved? … Where were you when my parents divorced? … Where were you when my child went astray? … Where were you when my loved one died?
 
Jesus did not reprove Martha for what she said. Sometimes we may feel as though we can never express our fears or even our doubts to God, but that is not the case at all. It is not wrong to tell God how we feel.
 
The psalms offer example after example of people who cried out to God with their fears and doubts. And Jesus himself, while he was hanging on the cross, cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46 NIV). The point is that they prayed.
 
When tragedy strikes or hardship comes, we sometimes withdraw from God or become angry with him. Yet it is in times like these that we need him more than ever. So cry out to him with your doubts. Cry out to him with your pain. He will patiently and lovingly listen.
 
Not only will Jesus listen, but he will weep with us in our times of pain. The Bible reminds us, "He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. … It was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down" (Isaiah 53:4–6 NLT). He not only carried our sin, but he also carried our sorrows. And the Bible says a day is coming when God will wipe away all of our tears.
 
So the next time you are tempted to ask, "Where were you, Lord?" know that he was – and is – there. Jesus was there when my son went to heaven. Jesus was there when I heard the horrific news. And he will be with you in your good days and your bad days.
 
The psalmist David said, "Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me" (Psalm 23:4 NLT). This is the great hope we have when we put our faith in Christ: We will never be alone. God will be with us through everything we face. And the best is yet to come when we meet him in glory.
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