“But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
The context of this verse is that Jesus has just been told that a beloved friend of his, Lazarus, had fallen ill. His sisters called for him so that he may come and heal their brother. The verse above was his response. If you’ve heard this story before, you know that Lazarus dies a few days later. Jesus had stayed where he was and didn’t go to visit him until after he had died. Jesus knew that he had died, and he told his disciples, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Of course, they didn’t understand what was about to happen.
When they arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Nevertheless, Jesus had them roll away the stone covering his tomb, and called out for Lazarus to come out. He walked out of the tomb alive. At the end of the story, it says that many who saw this believed in Jesus. This is why he said before that the illness wouldn’t lead to death, but to the glory of God. Jesus knew all along that Lazarus would die, but he also knew that the story would not end with his death, but instead with his resurrection so that people would see it and believe in him. Though there was pain for Lazarus and for his loved ones, in the end, God was glorified through his illness.
Many of us can relate to that pain. Whether it is our own sickness and suffering or that of a loved one, we’ve all experienced it. Sometime it becomes so painful that we question God, like Lazarus’ sister did saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” We wonder where God is. We wonder why he is letting this happen. There is an answer to those questions. God has a plan, and his plan is to use all things, even the painful things like sickness and death, to show his glory to the world that many may believe in him.
I’m not saying that God afflicts us with sickness or death in some vain desire to glorify himself. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reality is that God can take the painful things of this broken and fallen world, like sickness and death, and turn them into something that can give hope and life.
If you’re in a situation like this, be encouraged that God can use the situation for his glory. Many can learn about God and come to believe in Jesus through our trials. Instead of asking God why this happened, ask him how you can steward it for the glory of his Kingdom.
And always remember: for those who believe, it never ends in death, but in resurrection through Jesus Christ.
There is a lot of pain and suffering in this world, even in my own life, that I don’t understand. Help me to use it for your glory. Help me to see the way you’re working through the pain. Help me to be encouraged that you’re with me through it all. Let many come to believe because of it.
In Jesus’ Name,