Struggling with knowing God’s purpose
We often want to know EXACTLY what God is up to. We look around at the state of the world, or even at a struggle in our own lives and think, “Man, if only God would tell me WHY this is happening, I think I could deal with it all.”
The truth is, we may be giving ourselves too much credit. I’m not so sure that we could ‘handle it’ even if God was blunt and spoke plainly to us. After all, take a look at the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ revealed plan for Lazarus:
Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after that, He said to the disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”
“Rabbi,” the disciples told Him, “just now the Jews tried to stone you, and you’re going there again?”
“Aren’t there twelve hours in a day?” Jesus answered. “If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him.”
The disciples are trying to get Jesus to make a “business decision”.
If you haven’t heard the term before, it’s a straight-forward concept. A “business decision” usually comes when people want to ensure their own safety, even if it means they end up taking a short-term loss, or even potentially end up neglecting others. One modern-day example is sometimes seen in college football: a sure-fire top-10 draft pick decides to sit out of his team’s bowl game, because a good performance won’t help his stock any, so playing one last game isn’t worth the risk of injury to his future career. Similarly, a few years back in the Super Bowl, a team’s starting Quarterback opted to not reach out for the football that was fumbled near him. Why? Because there were six 300 lb men also nearby, and they were all diving for the ball at the same time. He didn’t want to risk injury, even if it meant the other team would recover the ball. In that split-second, the QB made a “business decision”.
With the disciples, we really can’t blame them for bringing up what happened the last time they were in Jerusalem – the Jewish leaders did try to kill Jesus. And if they’re ready to kill Him, then they would have no issues killing a disciple, either. So, I understand their “business decision” argument. Their line of thinking could have easily gone like this: Jesus said that Lazarus would get better, and we’ve seen Him heal from a distance before, so why risk death when we don’t have to? Instead, Jesus rebuffs their argument, reminding them that they will be fine as long as they are walking with Him. Then Jesus tries to gently break the news to them about Lazarus…but they don’t quite understand:
He said this, and then He told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I’m on my way to wake him up.”
Then the disciples said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.”
Jesus, however, was speaking about his death, but they thought he was speaking about natural sleep. So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe. But let’s go to him.”
Then Thomas (called “Twin”) said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go too so that we may die with Him.”
Even after explicitly telling the disciples:
where He was going,
why He was going,
and what He was going to do when He got there…
Some of the disciples were still convinced Jesus’ actions were not going to end well. Just like most of us probably would, Thomas uses sarcasm to cope with and even cover for his fear: “Well, since Jesus is on a death mission, we might as well march along with Him. What else are we going to do?”
So here we have God telling them EXACTLY what He was up to…and they tried to talk Him out of it. The important thing to note, however, was that after Jesus confirmed to them that this indeed was the direction He was going – the disciples still went with Him, even though they had reservations, because they trusted Him. And because they followed, they witnessed the biggest miracle they had ever seen.
That’s our take home message here: Even when God’s chosen path doesn’t make sense, and we would have opted to take another route, we still follow Him because we trust Him.