Steven Furtick - God's With You In Your Pain
God brings us to these points to see what we will do with our disappointment. She met him at the gate, and she confessed faith in him even in the absence of the miracle she so desperately needed. "I believe that you are the Son of God who is to come into the world". Verse 28: "After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. 'The Teacher is here,' she said, 'and is asking for you.' When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him". He will stand where you need him to stand, and he will come as far as you invite him. Listen to what that means. If you choose to keep God at a distance… He stood at the gate.
Mary was mad too. I love how they were both mad but they still got a miracle. Mary fell down at his feet, not in faith but in frustration. But she came to him, and everybody followed her out there, everybody who came around…Aunt Margaret. Verse 32: "[She] reached the place where [he] was and saw him [and] fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.' When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled".
When he saw her pain, he participated in it. The Lazarus factor is not only that God gives miracles in desperation. The Lazarus factor says that he is with us in the pain of disappointment as well. He asked Martha, "Do you believe this?" and he asked Mary for a location. "Where did you lay him? Take me to that place". Not the place you let everybody else see…that place. That place where you kind of buried your belief in God. It was a rejection. That place. It was a loss. That place. It was a betrayal. That place. It's a place where you feel exhausted, and it's sometimes a place where you're embarrassed of it. It's not the rooms in the house you show the guests. It's the other rooms. That place. What I couldn't figure out was why Jesus waited when he could have come and spoken a word. If he could have come and spoken a word, why didn't he just speak it from a distance? He didn't even have to come to Bethany to heal Lazarus.
I think he wanted us to see that he likes to come close to what other people would push away. Everybody has a Lazarus. Everybody has a turn your life took that you didn't see coming and that God didn't prevent. As simple as this message may be, I think it may be the deepest one you ever hear, because God is saying, "Take me to that place". It is not a physical location; it is an emotional one. "Take me to that place where you laid him, where you stopped being optimistic, where you started going through the motions, swinging an ax with no blade. Take me to that place where you just learned to manage the addiction rather than fighting it. Take me to that place where you just decided to show people a façade because you don't think they can handle what's really you in the core of your being. That place".
Everybody has a Lazarus. The question is not whether or not you have a Lazarus. The question is what you are going to do about it. Jesus made the trip to the tomb, and when he got there… Some of y'all said you were going to memorize more Scripture this year. I'm going to give you one to start. Verse 35: "Jesus wept". You can go home and tell somebody you memorized a whole Bible verse today. That's the whole verse: "Jesus wept". How powerful that before he spoke the word he wept. Before he demonstrates his authority, he demonstrates his empathy. He wants you to know, "I'm with you while you're waiting for it. I was with you when you didn't see me. I was with you when you didn't feel me. I was with you when people couldn't do it for you. I was with you". And he wept.
When they saw that (verse 36), many of the Jews gathered there said, "See how he loved him. Look at how much he loved him". Then some of the other Jews said (verse 37), "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying"? So, now I have one voice saying, "He loves you so much," and then I have another voice saying, "If he loves me so much, then why"? The Bible says that Jesus, once more deeply moved, did not respond to their opinions but operated according to his purpose. Watch this moment and receive it for your Lazarus in your life. It says, "Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance".
The stone across the entrance means nothing else is going in and nothing else is coming out. That's some of your hearts today. Then Jesus tells them something to do that he could have easily done without their help. "Take away the stone". Isn't that crazy? He's about to raise this man from the dead, but he can't push the stone. He could, but he didn't. Until the moment where you open yourself to the possibility that God can do it, your heart is a closed tomb, keeping dead things in, but here's what's beautiful.
When Martha responded to Jesus' command, she was embarrassed, because she didn't want to expose what was inside. She said, "Lord, by this time there is a bad odor". "I don't want anybody to see this. I don't want anybody to know this. I don't want anybody to know what's really going on in my heart". Then Jesus said something. "'Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?' So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know you always hear me, but I said it for them, that they may believe…'" "I sent you through trouble that you may believe. I sent you through the sea that you may believe". "…that you sent me". Verse 43: "When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!'"
When he said it, the dead man came out. The dead dream came out. The dead things came out. The dead place came to life. The dry bones came together, bone to bone. Hear the word of the Lord! Lazarus, come forth! Praise him! Lazarus, come forth! In a loud voice, he commanded that thing that was dead to come alive. The Lazarus factor says you don't always get Lazarus back, but his presence is always calling something forth. Come on, let it sink in. You know I'm right about it. You know he's the God of the outcome. You know he's the God who is working all things together. Right? You didn't forget that, did you, Martha?
You didn't let your Lazarus convince you that he didn't love you. He loved Lazarus. He loves Larry Steven Furtick Junior. He loves Holly Anna Furtick. He loved me so much he let something die. He showed up at the spot, and he's still showing up at the tomb of every Lazarus. They didn't want him to show up at the tomb; they wanted him to show up in the hospital room. I want you to know that even though this place is not the place you planned to be, he's standing here. He has not forsaken you. He has not abandoned you. In Greek, the word is ou me. It means never. When he said, "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you," it's a double negative: ou me. It means never, no, never.
Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank you that you heard us the first time. I thank you that there's nobody standing before you today who cannot declare that you are weeping with us in our disappointment and your word is going forth into our future. I speak to every Lazarus in this room today in the name of Jesus. I call joy forth in the name of Jesus. I call peace, purpose, and glory forth, for we know that this sickness does not end in death but for the glory of God.
The Lazarus factor. He is getting glory out of this situation. Look at me for one moment. It was the situation that gave the opportunity for revelation. God is doing that in your life right now.