I love to play cards.
It is something I can do well. Unlike the game of golf, I am actually competitive when it comes to playing cards––I always have the possibility of winning.
I like the thrill of playing cards because every once in awhile I get dealt a hand that is just simply remarkable. You know the hand––every card you possibly need to run the game from the first trick. What a tremendous feeling!
My wife hates it when I get dealt such a hand. She claims I am not a good sport, for she believes, in such situations, the proper etiquette is to lay your hand down at the beginning of the game and save everyone else the mystery. And the misery.
I like to play it out–-card by card. There is great joy in capturing each trick individually. In the world of cards, the perfect hand only comes around every once in awhile. I simply milk it for all its’ worth.
Having the hand of a lifetime is a wonderful thing. Simply stated, there is satisfaction in knowing how it ends––knowing what’s up and watching it happen. We always love to know the final score.
It must be great to be God. God always knows the outcome.
The Scripture records the story of Lazarus on his death bed. He was dying and there was hope Jesus would be able to heal him. Word was sent to Jesus of Lazarus’ condition. Instead of rushing to the scene to heal him, Jesus “stayed where he was two more days.” In the meantime, Lazarus died.
It seems Jesus stayed too long. Why in the world did Jesus not hurry over to heal his friend? When needed most, why didn’t he go rescue him from death? Why let him die?
This is what Mary and Martha wanted to know. Mary boldly stated, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus, however, was interested in building faith. He already knew the outcome. He knew Lazarus would live again––raised to life. He deliberately laid down his cards slowly. He wanted to make sure everyone’s faith would increase. He was looking to heal faith, not just heal bodies.
So, why did Jesus wait for four days?
Obviously, he could have kept his friend from dying in the first place. He could have brought him back to life ten minutes after his death. Instead, he waited four days. Why?
Perhaps, had he healed him instantly, the experts would have concluded Lazarus was merely in a coma or, even, a deep sleep. Instant healing might have saved some agony, but everyone’s faith would have stayed unchanged. Remember, Jesus was interested in building faith.
Being dead one day, two days or even three days still could be misinterpreted as not really being dead. But after three days, all hope of resuscitation from a coma would be abandoned and in the hot Palestinian climate, decay would have begun.
In other words, after four days, Lazarus was truly, unmistakably dead. And the scripture even says he smelt like it! Death stinks. Lazarus stunk.
When it comes to faith, how can we be sure it was really God and not just coincidence? In this situation, the person had to be really dead. Jesus waited four days when he could have done the same thing in four minutes. He wasn’t waiting for his sake but for ours.
As long as it is humanly possible, we are tempted to handle the situation ourselves and, therefore, divert the glory to ourselves. When it is humanly impossible, only God can fix it and only He can receive the credit.
How can we be sure it is really God?
When you conclude it cannot be done or there is absolutely no way it will ever happen or it is humanly impossible, you are primed and ready for a miracle. You are ready for the power of God.
Looking for a miracle? Remember Who already knows the outcome. Remember Who’s in charge of the deck of cards. How He chooses to lay down the cards will only make our faith––in the eternal scheme of things ––that much better!by Pastor Doug