For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
— 2 Corinthians 4:17
Have you ever specifically prayed for something, only to have the situation get worse? Have you prayed for your health to improve, only to have your condition weaken, then deteriorate further when you have a negative reaction to the medicine you were given? Have you prayed for your job to be more productive, only to lose out on a promotion, then be asked to resign? Have you prayed for your child’s well-being, only to have him drop out of school, then learn that he is involved in drugs?
Things got worse for Mary and Martha when they sent word to Jesus in John 11:3, Lord, the one you love is sick. Implied in the message was an urgent request on behalf of their brother Lazarus: “Please come. Do something. Help him. Make our brother well.” If they could have heard Jesus’ response at the moment He heard their request, they might have been initially encouraged, because when He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”(11:4) The logical assumption would have been that He was promising Lazarus’ illness would not become worse…that Lazarus would not die…that God would heal him. Yet not only did Lazarus not get better, things got worse. He did die.
When have you prayed and received initial encouragement through a promise from God? Has that promise led to confusion when it not only seems to be unfulfilled, but things get worse?
On August 17, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Almost immediately, God seemed to give me a promise from James 5:17, Pray for one another that you may be healed. I believed God was promising to heal me in answer to your prayers, even though I didn’t know if it would be before surgery, through surgery, using chemotherapy and/or radiation. So my journey of faith began, undergirded by the prayers of many people.
Rather than be healed before the surgery, I went through surgery. Rather than the cancer being contained, it was found in a lymph node. Rather than experiencing minimum side-effects to chemotherapy, I experienced a severe side effect to my second treatment. Rather than stay on schedule, my treatment was delayed for a week, and another chemotherapy infusion added.
So…when things get worse, how should you and I respond? With complaints? Self-pity? Fear? Doubt? Or trust…
…that God has a greater purpose than our immediate comfort.
…that getting what we want, when we want it, is not always for our good or His glory.
…that our faith is of more value than our physical health.
…that His strength will be sufficient for each moment of each day.
…that His blessings will outweigh any trial.
In this New Year—when things get worse—let’s choose to lay our expectations down and trust God alone. Period.
For the glory of His Name…
Instruction: God Is There
I. He Helps
* Which verses in Psalm 63 imply that the Psalmist was experiencing trouble?
* What phrase refers to the Psalmist’s sleepless nights? Why do you think he couldn’t sleep?
* What keeps you up at night?
Click here for the Bible study especially developed for this newsletter.
In this volume, Anne shares her heart and God’s teachings on the universal problem of suffering, using the familiar story of Lazarus. This small book presents a simple, powerful message that is sure to bring comfort and new meaning to all who are suffering themselves or know others who need a special touch from God. It will help you understand and deal with suffering by leading you to the One Who knows your needs, shares your grief, sheds your tears and promises glory to come! Based on John 11. Foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada.
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