What do we do with the brokenness and suffering of our lives and in the world?
What does Jesus have to say about it? What does He offer to real people who go through real pain and suffering?
In John 11:1-16, we see a family in the midst of intense suffering and pain. Jesus’ answer to the suffering and grief of this family is His answer to the suffering and pain we experience: I am the resurrection and the life.
Nothing in our lives happens by chance or fate. God cares about all of our lives—from the biggest things to the smallest things. He cares about our lives and He’s working in the midst of them. He’s orchestrating all of it to an end and that end is God’s glory. (John 11:4)
In John 11:5-6, we read that Jesus’ love for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus is the reason he does not come and heal Lazarus immediately.
Because He loves them, He lets them go through it.
Because He loves them, He doesn’t heal right away.
Because He loves them, He lets them hurt and suffer.
Because He loves them, He lets them mourn and grieve.
This is perfect love. This is love that seeks the ultimate good. This is love that knows that the ultimate good is the glory of God.
The most loving thing that Jesus could do for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus is wait and let them go through the pain and suffering so that they can see the glory of God.
And then, in John 11:14, Jesus states that one of His reasons for not immediately saving Lazarus is so His disciples would believe.
Jesus doesn’t see life the way that we see life. No suffering is wasted in the Kingdom of God. No pain is empty or hopeless. God is using all of it to accomplish His purposes. For His glory and our good. In the moment of Martha’s grief over the death of her brother, Jesus’ response is: “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
Through this statement, Jesus is reminding Martha that her hope is not in some specific event or set circumstance. Her hope—our hope—is not in a pain-free life. Jesus’ goal is not for Martha to be pain-free in this life; it’s to teach her something through the pain. It’s to accomplish something in her through the pain. Jesus wants Mary and Martha to shift their hope from earthy circumstances and set that hope on Him—their resurrection.
Martha’s eyes are on the closed tomb of her brother but Jesus wants to move them onto the future empty tomb of her Savior. Death is a certainty for all of us, but Jesus has come with an offer of true life:
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” –John 11:25-26
Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He does not say He’s bringing these things. Jesus is the embodiment of the undoing of the curse of sin. Jesus is saying that He is the resurrection for this dying creation; He is the hope for the entire world. Suffering and death is not the end of our story because it was not the end of Christ’s story.
So cling to the one who has all power and all control, who is good and is working all things for His glory. Cling to Jesus who has promised us a resurrection with Him.