Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (John 11: 6)
This miraculous story begins with the following declaration: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (v. 5). It is as if God were teaching us that at the very heart and foundation of all His dealings with us, no matter how dark and mysterious they may be, we must dare to believe in and affirm His infinite, unmerited, and unchanging love. Yet love permits pain to occur.
Mary and Martha never doubted that Jesus would quickly avert every obstacle to keep their brother from death, “yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”
What a startling word: “Yet”! Jesus refrained from going not because He did not love them but because He did love them. It was His love alone that kept Him from hurrying at once to their beloved yet grief-stricken home. Anything less than infinite love would have rushed instantly to the relief of those beloved and troubled hearts, in an effort to end their grief, to have the blessing of wiping and stopping the flow of their tears, and to cause their sorrow and pain to flee. Only the power of divine love could have held back the spontaneity of the Savior’s tenderheartedness until the angel of pain had finished his work.
Who can estimate the great debt we owe to suffering and pain? If not for them, we would have little capacity for many of the great virtues of the Christian life. Where would our faith be if not for the trials that test it; or patience, without anything to endure or experience and without tribulations to develop it?
Loved! then the way will not be drear;
For One we know is ever near,
Proving it to our hearts so clear
That we are loved.
Loved when our sky is clouded o’er,
And days of sorrow press us sore;
Still we will trust Him evermore,
For we are loved.
Time, that affects all things below,
Can never change the love He’ll show;
The heart of Christ with love will flow,
And we are loved.
Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim. Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (pp. 306-307). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.