What an unusual time we’re living in. Less than two weeks ago, much of America still stood in the dark as to the potential of the coronavirus. Many (including me) saw its threat as mostly media hype.
But now, America and other countries find themselves in quarantine mode—with grocery stores struggling to stock the basics, airlines flying near-empty planes, and social distancing keeping us from connecting face-to-face.
Kind of sounds like the book of Revelation, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not (at least, not yet). But the events of these days do remind us how global our issues have become and how easily the Lord could engage end-times events should the Rapture occur today.
Remember Jesus’ great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead in Bethany?
The story gives great context (and hope) to our current fears.
When Mary and Martha sent messengers to Jesus about their brother Lazarus’ deathly sickness, the Lord responded with words of reassurance:
This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it (John 11:4).
How reassuring those words must have sounded to Mary and Martha, and even perhaps, to sickly Lazarus!
But Jesus delayed for days. And in spite of Jesus’ reassuring words, Lazarus did die from the sickness.
During those final hours when their brother’s life ebbed away, Mary and Martha must have wondered in fear and frustration, What’s keeping Jesus? Why hasn’t He come yet? Jesus finally did arrive in Bethany, four days after Lazarus had died.
Four days! In other words, Jesus took His sweet time showing up.
Disappointment with Jesus
Martha’s first words to Christ revealed her expectations of Him—her shattered expectations:
Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21).
We all feel the weight of her words. Sometimes it feels like God takes way too long to answer our requests for relief. He could stop all the pain and confusion in a moment. He could meet the need. But sometimes, He delays.
Of course, in the events that followed, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, a miracle with more powerful results than any garden-variety healing. This story reminds us how blessed we are when Lord loves us enough to allow pain with results that will ultimately benefit us far beyond what immediate relief ever could.
Sickness dwells as part of the fallen world we live in. Even after we make it through our current crisis (and we will), we still will live in a world of sickness and death. But it’s a world in which Jesus came and healed sickness and raised the dead. In so doing, as in the case with Lazarus, Jesus gave a preview of what He will do one day on a cosmic scale:
There will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).
This is biblical hope!
A Contagious Hope
Today, fear has gone viral in our world—even more than disease. When fear rules our hearts, we focus on self-preservation, above all else, and overreaction follows. (Like fighting over toilet paper in Walmart.)
Fear is contagious, but so is hope. Jesus’ ministry of miracles—including His own death and resurrection—gives us the privilege to decide what we will allow to control us: fear or hope.
We choose a contagious hope.