“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
There’s something about getting our hopes up in life and being incredibly disappointed when expectations are not met that can leave us jaded and cynical. We allow negative things in life to affect us so much that they can drain us. This can not only affect our daily mood but impact our faith life as well. How can we overcome jaded cynicism to have faith in Jesus that will allow us to see the glory of God?
In John 11, something quite extraordinary and hard to believe happens. A man, Jesus’ good friend Lazarus from Bethany, comes back to life at the power and call of Jesus. Throughout this chapter, we see Jesus acting very strangely, not as is expected of Him, and we see those who love Him grappling with His invitation to have greater faith.
First, Jesus acts strangely by not rushing to Lazarus’ side once He receives the news of his illness. Instead, Christ stayed where He was for two more days. Then, when He finally announces He will be going to see Lazarus, and His disciples question this, He responds:
“Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of the world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles because the light is not in him (John 11:9,10).”
At first, it seems like a random remark not quite fitting to the disciples’ question, but it makes more sense in the greater context of John 11 and leads us to follow the guidance of the Lord better.
Essentially, the Lord tells His disciples and us that there is a right time to do things, even for God. Just as it is better to walk during the day instead of stumbling through the dark at night, God knows when best to do what He needs to do.
While many of us might think that it would be better for Jesus to rush down to Bethany at a moment’s notice to keep Lazarus from dying, Jesus knew better. He saw in His mind’s eye the great glory of the Lord that would be made known through letting Lazarus die and then raising him from the dead.
There is tremendous value to take from this. Sometimes we experience similar situations in life when we think the book is shut and what we wanted to happen is no longer possible. While it is important to discern with Jesus whether it is time to move on, it is also important to remember that God’s timing does not always match ours.
When Dreams Die
It might seem like there are things in your life that are dead and gone, but God is just waiting for the right timing to bring them back to life. He sees the big picture and knows what is best for us. Sometimes, God does not bring about our dreams because He knows they are misguided and will not truly make us happy. Other times, He lets our dreams die momentarily to show us how much we can trust Him.
In John 11, Mary and Martha knew that Jesus could be trusted with their sick brother. They called for his help when it made sense to have hope. However, once Lazarus was put in his tomb, they thought Jesus was limited. They had hope for heaven, which was good, but to hope that Lazarus could be raised from the dead probably seemed dumb.
God must have a good reason not to help you get into med school, allow you not to get the job, or miss out on getting your dream house, or something else you long for that seems unattainable. Sometimes He gives us what we want, sometimes He gives us something better, and sometimes, in my experience, most times, God will make us wait to show us what we actually desire, Him.
What Makes Us Happiest
Growing to know God will make us the happiest. It is wonderful to want things in this world but know that none of it will give you lasting happiness if you seek it without the Lord. To have God is to have everything. Nothing satisfies more than Him.
God gives us more. He will fill you with Himself if you seek Him. Then, if we seek Jesus, He will work through our desires, and we begin to want the things that He wants for us in life. He will lead you to be a doctor or attend the school you should go to, meet that special someone, quit the bad habits hurting you, or more. However, you become so connected with God that it is what He wants to.
However, there will be times in life, as we all have often found, when we face obstacles that block us from getting what we thought was for us. It is important to remember to properly discern these moments to learn from God whether what we want is best for us, but once we do this, we are free to hope even when it seems dumb.
You need to properly discern whether an obstacle is put in place to guide you somewhere else or wait to help you grow in faith. To properly discern this, you can take the following steps:
1. Trust in God. He is not absent from your life, and He is not powerless. Everything is in His hands, but God is not a helicopter parent. He wants you to participate in your life, which will bring you the most happiness.
2. Reflect on the times in your past when He has come through for you before. This will remind you of how God has taken care of you before. Often, things seem disconnected and sporadic when we are in the middle of something. However, when we look back, we see how God was there the whole time. Reflecting on these times can help us go through new trials. It allows us to see God’s pattern with us, knowing that He will continue to help us.
3. Put a fleece before the Lord. In the Book of Judges, Gideon seeks to know if God is hiding for a reason. He asks God to cover a fleece and not the surrounding ground with dew to discover God’s plan. The next day he asks for the opposite, for the fleece to be dry and the grass to be covered in dew.
We can do the same. Talk to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to clarify whether you should hope for what you believe He is leading you to. To do this, say a prayer every day for nine days and ask God for a specific thing to happen on the ninth or tenth day. You can talk to God and decide this with Him too. I share a story of how I waited for my future wife by doing this on the podcast episode, God is the Best Wingman, found here.
4. Decide what you truly want. As I said earlier, if you seek the Lord, He will shape you to enjoy what He wants. Look into your heart and think about what you want for your life. Follow the logic of your decisions and decide. Don’t worry about being wrong. If you are genuinely seeking the Lord, He will guide you.
5. Make a plan. When I was waiting for the woman who would become my wife, the project was simply to wait longer. This was an acceptable plan, and you can see that there is much danger in me messing up my life with it. If you have correctly taken the first four steps given here, with or without number three, you can trust that you are in the right place to make a decision that will lead in the right direction. Plus, God can offer fine-tuning if needed. Trust Him enough to know that He is giving you the tools to decide!
Having Hope Even When Hope Seems Dumb
Once you take these steps and discern the direction, you will take, even if it might seem dumb to others, you can have tremendous hope that the Lord is with you and you are following His plan. I have taken these steps many, many times, and they have never failed me. God has never failed me.
If you are still nervous after taking these steps, talk to God. Ask Him where this nervousness is coming from and how to overcome it. It also doesn’t hurt to read the Bible to learn of others in similar situations, like Abraham in Genesis 12-26, Joseph in Genesis 37-46, Moses in Exodus, David in 1 Samuel 17, and Jesus in John 18-20.
God came through for these people and will come through for you!