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When God Fails You

When God Fails You

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

We all have a way in which we expect the world to work. When life doesn’t go the way we want, we become frustrated, angry, hurt, and anxious. In the unknown, we turn to God. Sometimes things turn out the way we hoped, but often life just doesn’t run according to our plans. In the trials, it’s often our tendency to lash out at God. Why God? I prayed. I turned to you in my need, yet you didn’t fix anything. It only got worse. Where were you?

This sentiment echoes that of Martha in today’s passage. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were all siblings whom Jesus loved. In the story, Lazarus became deathly ill and so, his sisters turned to Jesus for help. Jesus told them that this illness would not end in death and he went on his way. Mary and Martha trusted Jesus, but then, Lazarus died anyway, and Jesus still didn’t show up until four days after his burial.

Martha wasn’t happy. If you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21). Where were you? You promised everything would be fine (my paraphrase)! The sisters trusted Jesus, but he’d obviously failed them. It was only natural for them to be angry. Jesus responded by doing the impossible, raising Lazarus from the dead. Before he resurrected Lazarus though, he spoke the words of today’s passage, insisting that all who believed in him would never die.

I am the resurrection and the life. These are the words to which we must cling when life is hard. We often think that trials and death are a failed end. Death though, is door through which we’re all guaranteed to walk. Even Lazarus eventually died again. The question isn’t whether we’ll die, it’s whether we’ll know authentic life on this side of the door. In coming to faith in Christ, we can have a new spiritual life, here and now, that will transcend our physical death.

We will all experience pain, trials, and even death. God doesn’t promise that following him changes any of that. He does promise that we can know authentic joy, transcending peace, and eternal life, even in our trials, if only we will believe in and follow him.

 

Faith Radio Interview: I recently had the opportunity to do an interview with Bill Arnold and George Fraser on their show Real Recovery. It will air tonight on Faith Radio at 5PM and next Saturday at 3PM. You can tune in locally (Minneapolis listening area) at 97.5FM or visit   www.faithradio.com/local-schedules/ where you can find your local station or listen online. 

4 Responses

  1. Ann says:

    I believed in and followed Christ for decades, but He has never shown any joy or any peace. I followed Him for all this time and it has left me with an unending dread of eternal life. How can one look forward to and eternity with God who has only ever offered then pain and torment? A God who withheld all good things and left them utterly and completely alone in their trials? How many years are you supposed to reach out to God hoping any of this joy and peace ever show up?

  2. Alyss says:

    My older brother died on his birthday a few months ago from congestive heart failure (he got it when he was 18). I want to still believe God is real and good, but how when so many things contradict? He says “long life will I satisfy you and show you my salvation” and the Bible says we’re supposed to live “120 years on the earth”, yet my brother only lived until 25. The Bible says ” by Jesus stripes we were healed”, but He didn’t heal him. And the Bible also says “God will give us the desires of our hearts” and “knock and the door will be opened to you, seek and you will find, ask and it will be given to you”, I asked for my brother to be healed and he wasn’t. How am I still supposed to believe?

    • Scott says:

      I’ve always thought that the problem of pain and suffering was the best argument that the non-believer had against God. Those are brutal questions and I’m sure I cannot answer them adequately. There’s nothing I can say that makes your pain not painful. I will say that I’ve struggled with some of those same verses as well. In interpreting them, I’ve had to take all of scripture – not just one verse – and try to make sense of it. Taking the whole Bible, it’s apparent that pain and death have been allowed to be a part of our world since the fall of man. Everyone gets sick and everyone dies eventually. Even Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, eventually died, causing his loved one’s much grief yet again. We can’t all be healed from everything, or we’d all live forever. As it is, very few live until the 120 years you mentioned.

      I’ve also struggled with those verses that say our prayers will be answered. I’ve found John 14:13 helpful.Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
      I think we interpret those verses to say that God should do my will, but asking in Jesus name means learning to seek his will, which is often contradictory to our own. I can hardly ask God for a new car everyday and seriously expect that I should get it, just because I asked in Jesus’ name.

      Still, it’s hard to understand the death of a young loved one. I’ve heard people say that there’s a reason for everything, but I don’t think we’re promised a reason that will make sense to us. That is one of the hardest things about faith – still following God, even when we don’t understand the why.

      If you’re interested and searching, I found a Phillip Yancey book helpful: Where is God When It Hurts? He’s a pretty honest writer who addresses those tough questions.

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.

      • Alyss says:

        Thank you for your honesty. I’ve gotten so many sugar coated answers I honestly am starting to wonder where to go from here. I’ll definitely be checking his book out. Hopefully I’ll find some answers, thanks for the suggestion.

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