“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” John 11:5-6
This past week I have had some very sick kids – so sick that there is little to no food going in them and their temperatures have only been lessened, but not adverted, with dual dosing of two different types of fever medication. I guess that is why when I read through two separate devotionasl this morning that focused on the sick and suffering I was drawn to the words I read.
This week as a mother, my plea to the Lord is that He heal my children, but more over that His will be done in the lives of my children. I know that what I desire and what the Lord wills are not always the same when it comes to matters that are so close to my heart. It is only natural when we lift up prayers for those we love, we pray for them to not have to endure suffering and for God to heal them from all that they are dealing with. But, God does not always see healing and removal of suffering as the greatest outlet of His love into the life of our loved one.
In the gospel of John, we see from the verse above that just before John states that Jesus stayed where he was after hearing the news of Lazarus, he states the following “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” In a way, John is trying to make a proclamation of God's love in His choice to allow suffering and pain in their lives an in our lives too. In fact, John is pretty much stating that if Jesus would have dropped all that He was doing when He heard the news of Lazarus' sickness, then He would not have showed love to Him.
That has to make us all think a long while. Are there times in my past that I have failed to show love because I have rushed in and not let God's will prevail in another person's life because I was too worried about their having to suffer? Sometimes we let our sympathies get the best of us. That is what Peter did in the scenario that is described below. But read on and see what response Jesus gave Peter for his desire to block the suffering Jesus was about to partake in as part of the Father's plan for His life.
“...Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!' But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.'” Matthew 16:21-23
I hate suffering just as much as the next person and I hate watching my children suffer even more. But just as it is good for our bodies to endure a fever for a while so as to kill a virus and make our defenses stronger, our lives need suffering to kill off sin in our lives and prepare us for what God desires to do through our lives. The product of suffering, just it was with what happened in the life of Lazarus and in the life of Jesus as they suffered in the ways God set before them, is an outpouring of good.
As I watch over my children today again and try to regulate their fevers to a certain degree, I know I will be reminded of this lesson the Lord set before me. I pray today that if you are enduring suffering, have someone in your life who is suffering, are on the other side of suffering and are seeking where God wants you to see the good in what you have been through, or maybe even are experiencing the good that came out of your suffering and are sharing it with others – that you will know just how much you are loved by the Lord in what He has been working on in and through your life with the suffering He has allowed you to take part in.