I love the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. He physically restores life to that which is dead. In a similar way, we have all been dead and the Lord has restored life to those who believe.
“You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1-6 emphasis mine)
My favorite two words of all Sacred Scripture are “But God”. They are the two most powerful words of the entire Bible. When the situation seems hopeless – But God. When the situation seems impossible – But God. When the situation is painful, and you can’t see the healing – But God. When the situation leaves you full of fear and doubt – But God. When you do not see value or worth in your life – But God. When your sins consume you – But God.
In the Gospel readings for Sunday, we see Lazarus raised from the dead. We see the same theme of Jesus bringing something which is dead back to life. When you hear the story read in Mass, do not tune it out or dismiss it as something that does not apply to you. It certainly has a life-giving message for you.
Jesus receives word that his friend is sick. Yet, Jesus already knows the situation (because He is God incarnate and the Son of God) and still takes his time in responding to the urging of Lazarus’ loved ones.
“This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.” (John 11:4-6)
Does it seem like God does not hear you? Does it seem like he is not listening? It appears in this story that even though Jesus loved Lazarus and Martha (just like he loves you), he’s not in much hurry to rush to his side and heal him. Jesus does not seem too concerned about the situation. However, we must remember he just told the disciples that this situation is meant for the glory of God. Our pains and troubles can be used for the glory of God. It is to glorify God in our life which we must seek and desire. We must allow the painful times in life to come because God can, and does, use them for his glory. We must be patient if we want to see God work in our life.
When Jesus finally arrives, he is met by Martha. By this time, Lazarus has died. The situation worsens as Jesus took his time. Martha’s utterance of faith to Jesus is an example we should all heed and try to live. It is her faith, amid suffering and loss, that positions her to see the power of God.
“Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” (John 11:21)
In the face of death, Martha has faith to know that God can raise the dead. When we feel like our lives or situations are hopeless and dead, God can raise the dead. When we feel like our prodigal children will never return to Christ – But God. When we feel that there is no healing in sight for our pain – But God.
No matter what your situation is today or what suffering you are feeling, remember there are two powerful words that change everything – But God. We just have to believe that what we see as death, God sees as opportunities. It is our faith that keeps us grounded and it is through our faith we will see the power, miracles, and life-giving glory of God.