In John 11, when Jesus arrives in Bethany and sees Mary and her friends and family weeping at Lazarus’s death, Jesus Himself weeps. The two reactions to this from the mourners are particularly interesting, for they represent well the common reactions suffering people have toward God today:
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”
There are those who see Jesus dying on the cross to put an end to suffering and say, “See how He loved us!” And there are those who say, “If He’s really all-powerful, couldn’t He have prevented the suffering in the first place?” The first set has their eyes fixed on God Himself; the second is firmly focused on their own thwarted plans.
Needless to say, the second view leads straight to anger and bitterness. Only the first view, resting on God’s loving, trustworthy character, is strong enough to carry a person through suffering.
John says that after Jesus heard about His friend’s illness, though He knew it would lead to death, He waited two days before coming to Lazarus and his sisters because He loved them. Lazarus was about to have the magnificent honor of showing God’s glory to the world: “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Through that situation, those who had eyes to see saw Jesus’ love, saw Him disturbed by suffering, saw that He was the giver of life and the healer of all things, saw that He was more powerful than death.
Could Jesus have prevented Lazarus from dying? Certainly. But what the people complaining about Jesus’ lack of action could not see was that Jesus had something greater in mind for Lazarus (and for the world) than a mere healing.
Now what if every instance of our suffering is likewise not an end in itself, but remains “for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it”? Lord, help us to say in all circumstances, “See how He loves me!” as we keep our eyes on Your love and compassion revealed in the cross and wait to see how You will give us the joy of bringing glory to You through every situation.