There is a well-known story in the New Testament about hope in the darkest of dark nights. It is a story told in the book of John about three dear friends of Jesus, Larazus and his two sisters Mary and Martha, who lived in a small town called Bethany just outside of Jerusalem. These friends had developed a special bond of trust and connectedness that only people who have spent a lot of intimate time together can know. Their relationship was marked by understanding and acceptance and love.
One day Jesus traveled far away from Bethany to escape from authorities who were trying to arrest him. During his time away, Lazarus fell deathly ill. Mary and Martha sent immediate word to Jesus begging Him to come and help Lazarus. However, Jesus purposefully delayed for several days. During this period, Lazarus died and was buried. Both Mary and Martha began their period of mourning, which was made all the more desperate and troubling by the lack of Jesus' presence.
However, Jesus stayed away for a specific purpose, namely, to use Lazarus' death to bring glory to God. When He eventually made His way back to Bethany, Martha ran out to meet Him with confrontation in her eyes. She demanded to know where He had been and why He delayed so. In her very next breath she then made an amazing statement of faith, "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." She never gave up hope. She knew that even with Lazarus in the tomb for several days, this was nothing that God could not overcome with but a word. Of course, that is exactly what happened when Jesus commanded, "Lazarus, come out!". This miracle brought many people to Jesus and brought glory to God.
An important lesson from this story is that hope need not be such a fragile possession. While our prayers may not always (or ever) be answered in the way that we desire in the depth of our hurting or loss, we need to cling desperately and lovingly to faith in our God. We need to trust that He is in control and if our Lazuruses are not brought out from the tomb, then there is a reason. We have not been forgotten or cast aside, only that there is more afoot that we could possibly understand.
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