Matt Hagee - How Do You Turn Tragedy into Triumph?
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This morning, I want to bring to you a word of encouragement from John's gospel 11:25. But before I read that text, I'm reminded today of what Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day that the Lord has made. And we will rejoice and be made glad in it". The words of that Psalm were written centuries before the death and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the Psalmist, looking through prophetic lenses, could see a day when sin would be conquered. He could see a day when death would be defeated. He could see a day when the grave would be the gateway to glory, and those who were powerless would be filled with the power of God that renders the gates of hell useless: when those who were outside of the covenants and the promises would be grafted in as heirs and joint heirs with Jesus.
The Psalmist could see a day when the captives would be set free, when those who were weak would be made strong, when the poor in spirit would be made rich with the blessings and the favor of God. And when he could see that day, all he could think to be able to capture what he was feeling in that moment were these simple words, "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be made glad in it". I'll rejoice, because whom the son sets free, is free indeed. I'll rejoice, because my sins, which were scarlet, have now been washed white as snow. I'll rejoice, because the price has been paid, and I am now an heir and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. And there has been a way made where there seemed to be no way.
Church, this day is the day the Psalmist saw. This is the day that the Lord has made. And you and I have reason to rejoice and be made glad in it. And yet, where you're sitting this morning, you might say to yourself, pastor Matt, I'd like to rejoice: I just don't know that I can right now. I want to rejoice, but my business is dying in the midst of this crisis. I want to rejoice, but this week I got numbered amongst the millions who are unemployed and looking for work. I'd like to rejoice, but I received a report that my friend, my loved one, my family member isn't feeling well and they need healing, or maybe worse. I want to rejoice, but I've lost someone in the midst of this pandemic.
You see I know wherever you're watching from today, there are individuals who are walking through some of the most difficult days that humanity has ever seen. And on days like today, the simple words of a man would do very little to bring comfort and consolation. So rather than bring the words of a natural man, today I want to bring your attention to the spoken words of the only begotten Son of God, who in John 11:25, walked into the village of Bethany where his friend Lazarus had just breathed his last. And there he met Mary and Martha, who were grieving over the loss of their brother. And I believe what he said to them that day is what he would say to you, who are grieving this day.
Let's read together John 11:25: Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this"? My friends, that's who Jesus Christ is. And that's what he wants us to believe: that he is the resurrection and the life. Listen to the first statement that Jesus made. He said, "I am," "I am". Why are those two words significant? Consider what Hebrews 13 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever". James, in his letter to the church, he echoes these sentiments whenever he says, "There is no shadow or variation of turning in him".
And the first thing that Jesus Christ says to Martha is the exact same thing that God Almighty spoke to Moses from within the burning bush. He said, "I am". It is a present declaration. It's not something that lets us know that God moved with power in the past or that he promises to do great miracle works in your tomorrows. It's something that says he is an ever-present help in a time of trouble. I am your refuge. I am your healer. I am the God who is the resurrection and the life. I am he who was dead: and yet, live again. And I have the keys to death, hell and the grave. Today I want you to let those two words sink into your spirit and let them build your faith, "I am," "I am". I am a provider. I am a protector. I am a deliverer. I am a comforter to those who mourn. I am the glory and I am the lifter of your head.
Today, do you feel isolated and alone? Do you feel as if the world has forgotten you? Jesus Christ said, "I am a friend that sticks closer than a brother". Do you feel lost in a fog of chaos and confusion? He said, "I am the one who came to seek and to save that which was lost". Is your heart broken today? He said, "I am a mender of broken hearts". Have you tried with all of your heart today? Are you weary? He said, "I am strength for the weary. I am living water for those who thirst. And I am bread for those who hunger". You see today you can turn the greatest tragedy you've ever known into a moment of triumph, because our God is not a God of sometimes and maybe. He's a God of might and majesty. He's not a God who will be there. He is the God who is there. And he knows exactly what you need, and he is able to do exceedingly and abundantly, above all that you could ask, think or imagine.
That, my friends, is the great I am. Not only did he say, "I am," but he said, "I am the resurrection and I am the life". Those words are filled with hope to those who are suffering from loss. "I am the resurrection and I am the life". Mary and Martha, they had watched over their brother, Lazarus, as intently as anyone could. They tended to him day and night. They wiped his forehead with a cool clothe whenever he burned with fever. They stoked the fire in the house and they brought him an extra blanket whenever he shook with chills. But in spite of all that Mary and Martha did to comfort their brother, it still wasn't enough. They gave it everything they had: and yet, Lazarus still died.
Many of you watching know what it's like to invest every ounce of strength you have into something and still watch it die. You tried to keep your business open, but you still had to close the doors. You tried to keep your family together, but it still fell apart. You tried with every ounce of strength you could to keep your dream alive. And in spite of your best efforts, it still wasn't enough. That's why I bring you good tidings of great joy today. The God that we serve is the resurrection. He has the power to breathe life into the dead areas of you and bring it back to its fullness. He can breathe life into your dead business. He can bring life into your dead marriage. He can breathe life into the dead dreams that you've forsaken and given up on, because he has the power to do the impossible.
The Bible says that he calls those things that are not as though they were. And just as he walked into the graveyard in the village of Bethany and said, "Lazarus come forth," I believe that he can walk into the living room where you're watching. I believe he can walk into the bedroom where you're watching. I believe he can walk into the hospital room where you're watching. And he can speak to the dead areas in your life, "Come forth". Come forth to new life. Come forth to new blessings. Come forth in abundance. When the resurrection says, "Come forth," dead things come back to life.
I believe that right now, as you're watching this message, Jesus Christ, the resurrected Savior, the great I am, he's standing in the same room where you are. And he knows what you're grieving over. He knows what you've lost. He knows the number of tears that you've cried. He's collected them in the bottle. And he has said, "I am the resurrection and I am the life," "Come forth". He's calling your hope back to life. He's calling your joy back to life. He's calling your strength back to life. He's calling those things that are not as though they were, because he is the resurrection and he is the life. But listen to this: it's not enough to be the resurrection. You must also have life. He told Martha very clearly, "I am the resurrection and the life".
Resurrection conquers the grave. The grave is where you put things that are dead. The grave is where you place things that no longer have life in them. And there are a lot of things in this world today that are dead. They just haven't been buried. Jesus Christ, when he said, "I am the resurrection," it meant that he could roll back the stone on any tomb that you've placed your beloved in and he can bring it back to life. But when he resurrects it, it's up to you to make it live. The Bible says, "The just shall live by faith". Faith is willing to move forward even when the next step seems impossible. Faith believes that God can and that he will, even when all of the experts disagree. Faith refuses to give up, even when those who are closest to you have lost all hope. God is the resurrection of the dead. But when he brings those things back to life, you are going to have to decide to put faith to work to see that life lived out.
"The just shall live by faith". And the Bible also says that faith without works is dead. Jesus can bring resurrection in your life today. But if the life that he brings back from the grave is going to go anywhere, it's going to be up to you to put your faith in God, and put your hand to the plow, and make it happen. When he calls your dead business back to life, you have to work in that business harder than you've ever worked before. When he calls that dead marriage back to life, you have to put faith believing in the God of all hope and go to work on your marriage like you never have before. When he brings that dead dream out of the grave, you can't sit there and stare at it. You've got to pick it up and walk with it, because if God be for you, who can be against you?
And then he had an important question that he asked Martha, and he asks you today: "Do you believe this"? "I am the resurrection and I am the life. And he who believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this"? You see it wasn't a matter of fact, because the facts were Lazarus was dead. It wasn't a matter of feeling, because the feelings that Mary and Martha had were that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would have made it. It wasn't a difference between reality and revelation, or natural and supernatural. It was simply a question based on your ability to believe. Getting Lazarus out of the grave was nothing for Jesus. He created heaven and he created earth. He was there when God called something out of nothing. He was there when God formed man in the dust of the ground and breathed life into him. If he could bring life out of a pile of dust, he can bring a man out of the tomb.
As a matter of fact, the power of Christ over death was so great: that had he not called Lazarus' name and simply said, "Come forth," then every dead man in that grave would have come out. Jesus wasn't looking for strength to do the impossible. Impossible is what he does best. He was looking for someone who was willing to believe that he was the resurrection and the life. What he said that day is what he says this day, "I am the resurrection and the life... Do you believe this"?
Child of God, I know that on days like today, it can be hard to believe anything good could come in your tomorrows. But we serve a risen Savior. We serve a God who can do all things. He can take the graveyard of your misery and turn it into the greatest triumph that you've ever known. He can go to the place where you've buried your dreams, where you've buried your business, where you've buried your hopes, where you've buried your future: and he can take this tragedy you're walking through and turn it into a triumph. But the difference between the tragedy and the triumph is not in his ability. The difference between the tragedy and triumph is simply found in this: do you believe? Do you believe that he is the resurrection and the life? Do you believe that he is the conqueror of death, hell and the grave? Do you believe that this is the day that the Lord has made, and we will rejoice and be made glad in it? Today, I want you, with all of your heart, soul, mind, and body to believe that he is the resurrection and the life, and he can bring new life to you.