Devotional 1: Why Does God Allow Death to Happen?
(Excerpted from Awful Storms, Awesome God by Samuel Khangaldy)
It may sound odd, but God sometimes allows us to experience hardships in order to glorify Himself. While no one else is able to do anything, He will work so incredibly that everyone will be amazed. Two examples from the Bible help explain this important truth.
The apostle John records an event where Jesus and His disciples met a man who was blind from birth (John 9). In response to His disciples who asked, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (vs. 2-3).
Two chapters later we read about Lazarus who was critically ill. His sisters sent word to Jesus, expecting Him to hurry to them and heal their brother (John 11:3). Jesus was close friends with this family whom He loved, yet He deliberately delated coming until Lazarus had died (v. 6).
Can you imagine how Mary and Martha felt about their friend's seemingly uncaring neglect? They were both surprised and hurt by Jesus' attitude. He healed many others but disregarded their brother. Jesus was their only hope, and He had not responded. In fact, he had allowed their brother to die.
Why did Jesus do this? Why did He allow His friends to end up in this painful situation? John records two reasons which helps us understand. First, Jesus had a purpose for His disciples and told them,"For your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe" (vs. 15). Jesus was going toward Jerusalem to be crucified. His disciples were sorrowful. He had told them that He would be crucified, but He would rise again. By raising Lazarus from the dead, He wanted them to believe that He had power over death. The disciples were already witnesses to Jesus' power to raise the dead on other occasions. But this time was different. Now Jesus Himself was going to die. Jesus wanted them to believe that He still had the resurrection power - even if His close friend or He Himself died.
The second reason John records is Jesus' own clear explanation, "This sickness is not unto death, butfor the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." (John 11:4, KJV)
What if Jesus had listened to Mary and Martha by rushing to them and healing their brother? He could have done that, but it would have been like other healings, which were soon forgotten. It wouldn't have drawn the kind of attention that would allow the family and many others to see who Jesus really was. Raising the dead in this particular case had a different and stronger impact on Jesus' friends and even on His enemies. The news of this miracle spread so quickly to Jerusalem that almost everyone was talking about Jesus and His amazing work. The death and resurrection of Lazarus glorified God the Father and His Son Jesus. The term "glorified" means to make God known for who He is. Only He has power even over death.
Two thousand years after this event we still remember Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Reading about them and reflecting on their story, we recollect what Jesus did for them and give honor and glory to Him. Isn't that incredible?
God has a reason for everything that happens in our lives and has a different purpose for every person. Some of the reasons and purposes are clear to us because the Bible mentions them or we discover them through our experiences. Other reasons remain unknown to us as long as we live here on earth. Whether the reasons and purposes are clear or hidden, it is good for us to ask God when facing any kind of adversity, to teach us what He has in mind. In the process, we might try not to lose faith but rather keep our trust in God.