Tuesday, February 2, 2021
I DO NOT RECOMMEND THE TEACHING TACTIC USED IN THE FOLLOWING STORY.
As well as I can remember, I was around seven years old when I learned to swim. I loved playing in the water. I especially enjoyed the St. Mary’s river in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. I remember the first time we went to the public park and waded in the water. As a large cargo ship approached, my dad yelled for me and my brothers to come up on shore. We watched as the ship passed, and the draft behind the ship sucked the water away from shore and out towards the middle of the river, much like the tides of the ocean. As the ship went ahead the water would come rushing back towards the shore. I imagined how much fun I could have if I could follow the water out on the wet sand and then race it back to shore.
My dad figured I should know how to swim before he would allow such a daring race. Within the next few days my dad took me to a swimming pool at a motel owned by people in our church. As I stood on the edge of the deep section of the pool, my father asked me if I remembered how to hold my breath. He asked me if i remembered what he showed me about kicking and paddling. When i said yes to both, he pushed me in as he yelled, “Time to learn to swim!” I fought to get back to the surface and paddle back to the edge. I was scared. I was angry. I succeeded. I was never afraid of water again, and later in life became a good enough swimmer to become a lifeguard. So was my wife. That’s how we met.
Many times, it feels like we’ve been pushed into the deep end of life. The water of fear overwhelms us. Anger rises to the point of sinking us. Anxiety caused by our desire to manipulate outcomes debilitates us. Our confidence that God is doing anything good is diminished.
Such was the case of Mary and Martha in today’s Gospel of John study.
John 11:1-4 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Death was preparing to invade the family life of Mary and Martha. Their brother was so sick that they doubted he would live. They sent for Jesus. Jesus allowed the problem to get worse. Not because of lack of love, for His love endures forever. Not because of lack of compassion, for His compassions never cease. But Jesus knew the outcome would be the greatest opportunity for His glory to be revealed to the greatest number of people.
The point to ponder today is this: How can we learn to trust that God will reveal his glory to us and others through the current circumstances of life when what we seem to want most is for them to be fixed?
Nothing in the life of a believer right now ends badly from God’s perspective. It ends in glory. Trust Him.