“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby…Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”
– John 11:1-7, 17, 20-23, 38-44
There will come a time in your life when it seems as if the candle is about to dim its light, clouds will cover the shinny rays of the sun, darkness will fill the skies as far as you can see, and you feel as if what you are going through has not only gotten the best of you but it will also be the death of you. These feelings come about as you walk throughout life and begin to experience all of its ups and downs. These feelings signal that you are experiencing pain on a completely different level. What do I mean by this? It’s one thing to feel a pain for but a brief moment; however, it’s another thing to feel a continuous and slowly intensifying pain. For instance, the pain of getting a shot is a brief pain. At the moment of pricking and penetration it hurts dearly, but once it’s all over and the needle is no longer penetrating your skin the pain begins to fade. On the other hand, there is another level of pain, such as that caused by having a major surgery with a recuperation timeframe of six to eight weeks or even a few months. This level of pain fluctuates from levels of severity and can also become worse if something is done to add to or hinder the healing process. Still, there is also the pain that one experiences as a result of heartbreak. Heartbreak is triggered from many different things to include: infidelity, divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a child, etc. Pain at this level is what we often describe as unbearable pain. Nonetheless, pain is pain and it does not discriminate, it has no prejudice, and it most certainly does not hold back or take it easy on its prey.
Throughout all the different types of pains that we may experience there is one constant result: either you will survive it or succumb to it. Oh yes, one or the other has to take place, and as much as we try to survive it there are times when the latter (succumb) takes place. This is especially true when it comes to sickness and disease wrecking all types of havoc and pain in our bodies. As a matter of fact, that is what we see happening in the text that we have before us. Jesus’ dear friend, Lazarus, has fallen ill and is basically on his death bed. He is surrounded by his family and friends or loved ones, but things are not looking good. However, they knew to call on the name of Jesus and that he would come and see about them. So, what did they do? They sent word to Jesus that his dear friend was gravely-ill, and that they needed him to come and see about him. Please understand, they were not sending word so that Jesus could come by and pay his final respects. No, they were sending word so that Jesus could come by and perform a miracle. Thus, we arrive at the narrative of this story. Based on their request, it is safe to assume that they were keeping hope alive, holding on to their faith, and ultimately expecting God to show up on their behalf. So, we see that they were a family of faith. However, this story makes me ask a question: What do you do when you keep the faith and make your requests known to God, but His answer is not the one you were expecting?
Somebody said, what do you mean Brother Kean? I mean, the sisters sent word to Jesus of their current situation, and Jesus sent word back to them. The word that he sent back was so “coded” that neither of them could exactly interpret its meaning. Jesus said that the sickness was not meant to bring about Lazarus’ death, but it was allowed so that God could get the glory and the son be glorified thereby. I must admit that at first glance, somebody that is going through a similar situation wouldn’t be in the mind frame of Jesus’ answer is a parable. Truth be told, some of us probably would have sent word back to him to say “this is not the time for mind games and crossword puzzles.” However, what somebody should have inquired was since Jesus didn’t respond in the manner that I expected of him, then go ask him what is meant by this thing in which he has spoken. Nonetheless, that didn’t happen, or did it? Throughout this entire story I kept looking for one thing, one word, one thought, but I never read or found it. I kept looking for Lazarus’ thoughts concerning this entire situation. At first glance, it would appear that Lazarus was simply succumbing to his ultimate fate of death; however, I made mention earlier that they were believers, and believed in Jesus’ ability and power to do whatsoever pleases God, including the performance of miracles. This leads me to believe that although Lazarus didn’t speak verbally regarding his situation, he had in inward resolve that was similar to that of the Three Hebrew Boy’s: I know that God is able to deliver me from this thing, but if He doesn’t, I’m still not going to bow down or succumb to it. Instead, I’m going to praise Him in spite of.
Now, I know that some of us are wondering how did I come to this conclusion, because there is no mention of it in the Bible? Let me put your mind at ease and assure you that I didn’t assume anything. We all know that although God is all powerful and all knowing, He has set systems and order in place that prevents Him from doing things or getting involved in the world’s affairs unless it is first revealed to His prophets (Amos 3:7). It doesn’t mean He can’t but that He won’t. Jesus was the prophet who spoke God’s plans concerning mankind during his lifetime. Thus, God revealed His plan to Jesus that there was a glory coming that needed to be revealed. Jesus spoke this plan to a messenger who then spoke it to the sisters and Lazarus. Lazarus was the servant of both God and Jesus and received the plan. Once the plan has been received, all God needed for him to do was say “Amen!” I’m reminded of another situation where all God needed was an “Amen” from someone. You remember Mary, the mother of Jesus don’t you? She said, “be it unto me according to thy word.” In other words, she said “Amen!” Well, somehow Lazarus said “Amen!” He may not have spoken it verbally, but I believe inwardly he spoke it, Jesus received it, and God blessed it. Inwardly? That’s right. You remember Hannah don’t you? The woman who was barren, but make an inward vow to God. She didn’t speak, but had a conversation with God within herself. God heard her and answered her prayers.
Can I help us understand the true significance of Lazarus’ silence to this story? Shout cue on the way! This whole time, we never heard anything from Lazarus. We didn’t hear of him continually praying and crying to God about his circumstances. We didn’t hear of him being filled with anger and bitterness as a result of having to suffer. We didn’t hear of him going around cussing and fussing about it. We didn’t even hear of him trying to fight the enemy off. No! All we see and hear is silence from the perspective of Lazarus. I wonder why? Are y’all ready for this shout cue? I’m not sure y’all are. I need you to promise me that when you read this shout cue, that you will continue reading (basically get your shout in and your praise on but come back and finish). You ready? I believe Lazarus was silent the entire time due to his relationship with Jesus. He knew who Jesus was and is and is to come. He knew of Jesus’ power and capabilities. He knew that Jesus was exactly who he said he was: The Son of God sent to save a dying world. He knew his suffering for Christ’s sake would make him a co-heir with him, thereby qualifying him to be glorified with him. All of this gave him the confidence to be fully dependent on Jesus and trust his ability. Thus, I think Lazarus knew “someone” which enabled him to know “something” that nobody else knew. Did you catch that? No! It’ll catch you in a minute.
Lazarus confidently and without a shadow of doubt knew Jesus. He didn’t know of Jesus, but he “Knew” Jesus. Not only did he “know” Jesus, but he “knew” his relationship with him. As a result of this relationship I believe Lazarus was reminded on his death bed, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). In addition, he was reminded that public shame, for Christ’s sake, yields the result of spiritual prosperity in the portion of “double” for the sufferer to partake. Need Bible? “For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them” (Isaiah 61:7). In other words, Lazarus understood that the result of his belief in and relationship with Jesus grants him grace and favor with God. In addition, it has positioned him to go through many trials, tribulations, and suffer from divers temptation. However, in spite of everything he realized that he doesn’t have to verbalize everything he thinks, feels, sees, and/or knows. Some fights are better fought silently, meaning without any added help on my part. So, when when the enemy comes in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord lifts up the standard. My job is to keeping publicly praising, and the louder the fight gets the louder my praise gets. Watch this. Ultimately, Lazarus died and the enemy thought he had won. However, what he didn’t know is that he (the enemy) was fighting to destroy my praise and presence, but God was simply waiting so that He could move me into my position and purpose! So, just when the enemy thought he had won, God showed up on the scene, resurrected Lazarus, and told him “Tell The Devil, You’re Back!”
I feel my help coming now! There is somebody reading this article who may be feeling as if what you’re going through is going to take you out! You feel lost and without help. You feel confused and like there’s little hope for you. However, I came to serve notice that it’s time to get to know the one who has the revelation concerning your destination. I came to inform you that there’s a comeback in you. I came to let you know that what seems like it’s your end, is simply your beginning. I Dare You to Shout I’m Back! I didn’t just come for those people mentioned above, but I also came for the one who thinks their life means nothing. The one who believes that they’ve done so much dirt that there is no way Jesus can cleanse them and God will accept them. The person who says that they don’t know what else to do, they have no clue, and they don’t what to believe or what is true. Well, I do! Come to Jesus and give him your life. In him there is forgiveness. In him there is healing. In him there is redemption. Also, in him there is rest. Now, turn and Shout I’m Back!
I think we are onto to something here. Shout I’m Back! The devil thought he was going to take you out with the sickness and disease that he sent your way. He thought the physical ailment to your body would cause you to give up, but oh we got news for him. Shout I’m Back! He thought his attack on your family would deter you and cause you to forsake what God has given you. The children are out of control. Your spouse is out of control. Your In-Laws are out of control. Everything and everybody seems to have lost their minds, but we know that God is able. Therefore, we’re going to let him know that he has no rule over us. Regain your control and Shout I’m Back! I’m going higher! I’m Back from depression! I’m Back from low self-esteem! I’m Back from anxiety attacks! I’m Back from every sickness and disease! I’m Back from the valley! I’m Back from the pit! I’m Back from the desert! I’m Back from the grave you dug for me! You sent your witches to try to put a hex on me. You sent your fiery darts to try to destroy my temple. You sent you jezebels, your Cains’, your Pharaohs, and your Judas’ to try and take me out. You sent them to try and silence me. You sent them to try and betray me. For a moment, it looked like they were going to win. Oh, But God! He stepped in, right on time! As a result of His intervention on my behalf, I can stand here and look you square on and Shout I’m Back! I’m Back! I’m Back! I’m Back! You thought you had me, but I’m Back!
Shake yourself loose, and declare from this day forward, it may look, feel, and sound like I’m not going to make it. However, that’s not the end of my story! In spite of what it looks like, in spite of what it feels like, and in spite of what it sounds like I will no longer be the victim, but the victor! I will no longer be shamed but be shameless. Devil, it may have looked like you was going to knock me out, but look again. It may have looked like I was down for the count, but look again! I’m up again! Im still standing! I’m stronger than before! I’m better than before! I’m wiser than before! And in case you haven’t noticed or gotten the memo, everything you tried to get me off track was wack. Through the power of my God I survived your little attack, and I have been given the permission to let you know devil, I’m Back! Shout Yes! Yes!
Be blessed and stay encouraged!