July 31, 2014

Sermon: When God Is Late

tears_of_sadness

Note from CM: I was asked to preach at a local Presbyterian church this morning. Their pastor is doing a topical series about our disappointments with God, and he asked if I would focus on John 11, the story of Jesus’ raising Lazarus. The emphasis of the message is on Jesus’ delay in coming to help Lazarus and his family, and the question they asked Jesus, which we too so often ask: “Lord, why weren’t you here to help? If only you had come when we needed you!”

* * *

Today we come to the end of the sermon series your pastor designed about the times in our lives when God doesn’t seem to act like we think God should. We believe in a God who is loving, who cares for us personally, who is active in our lives, and who has our best interests in mind. But sometimes, God seems inattentive, like he can’t hear us, like he’s not listening, like he doesn’t care. At other times, God seems uncooperative. We think our plans and our ideas are good and right, but God doesn’t seem to bless them or help us. He says “No” to our requests. At times it seems he is actually fighting against us and making it impossible for us to do what we think he is calling us to do.

This morning, we want to look at the issue of God’s timing. What about those times in life when we pray and ask God to help us, but that help doesn’t seem to arrive on time? What about when God is late?

John’s Gospel tells the story of Jesus and three of his friends: Lazarus, and his sisters Mary and Martha. From the other Gospels, we know that Lazarus and his family lived in Bethany, a village near Jerusalem, and that Jesus ate in their home and stayed there as a guest. We get the sense that they were close friends, and that this family was devoted to Jesus, believing him to be the Messiah. They may have seen him do signs and wonders; they certainly heard stories about that.

There came a time when this family had a need. Lazarus was sick. He was so sick, in fact, that his sisters sent messengers to Jesus and asked him to come right away to help Lazarus. Lazarus was dying. It is at this point that we have one of the most puzzling texts in the Bible:

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed where he was, to begin with, for two days.

- John 11:5-6 (KNT)

What a curious statement — Jesus loved them, so he decided NOT to go help them right away. What would you think of a friend, a family member, or a pastor who did that? Imagine that you were deathly ill in the hospital and your family called the church and asked the pastor to visit you and pray for you. Now imagine how you would feel if you found out that the minister intentionally decided not to go, but to wait a few days. Furthermore, think how your family would feel if you died in the meantime and no one had showed up!

That is what happened with Lazarus and his family, except it wasn’t just a pastor coming to pray. They sent for Jesus, the One they knew could heal and restore their brother. But Jesus said no, let’s wait. And then Lazarus died.

When Jesus finally did arrive, both Martha and Mary confronted him. “Lord, if only you had been here! You could have saved our brother!” What they were saying was, “Jesus, why did you delay? Why didn’t you come on time? Why are you late? Why didn’t you come when you could have done something to save our family member?” Even some of the folks from the village who were gathered around Lazarus’ grave said the same thing: Some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

As a hospice chaplain, I meet people with questions like this all the time. Just the other day I was in a hospital room, meeting with a family. The patient was an older woman. Her husband, children and grandchildren, and other family members were at her bedside and she was dying. They were sad, but they did not question God about her situation. It is never easy to lose someone, of course, but she had lived a good, long life and people were coming to terms with saying goodbye. They asked me to pray, so we gathered around the bedside and I prayed for comfort and peace and strength for them. Just as I finished, the patient’s husband began to sob. With a broken voice, he cried out, “Can we say a prayer for Johnny?”

Johnny was their son. He had died a tragic death three years earlier. Johnny was a young man with a bright future and the apple of his parents’ eye. Now, this dad could wrap his mind around losing his wife at her age and in her condition, but grief still overwhelmed him at the thought that their son had perished. The timing wasn’t right. God hadn’t shown up to save Johnny in the prime of his life, and this father still couldn’t understand that.

“If only you had been here!”

mourningThere are clues throughout this story as to why Jesus waited on this occasion and didn’t come immediately to heal his friend.

First, when Jesus first heard the news that Lazarus was sick, he told his disciples, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” He knew that something was going to happen that would reveal God’s glory and bring honor to Jesus his Son.

Second, when Jesus and the disciples finally did set out to go to Bethany, he said to the disciples, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Jesus told them that what was about to take place would give them further reason to believe in him.

At the time, the disciples found this puzzling; they didn’t grasp what Jesus was saying: Lazarus’ illness would not end with his death, but rather with a display of God’s glory? Hmm. The whole situation would lead them to believe more fully in Jesus? I wonder how? Don’t worry, Jesus said. God will get the glory. You will get a stronger faith.

Let’s pause here. Isn’t it hard to think like that when we are in pain and struggling and longing for God to act? Yet many well-meaning Christians come up and try to comfort us like this all the time. “Oh don’t worry, God will be glorified through this situation.” “It’ll be alright; God’s just testing your faith and he wants you to come out stronger in the end.”

Take it from me, even though Jesus said such things here, I don’t think we should. This was a special situation in Jesus’ ministry and it came at a key point on his way to the cross. He said what he did to his disciples and to Mary and Martha and those who were gathered at Lazarus’ tomb because he knew what was going to happen. He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead!

I, on the other hand, have never officiated a funeral service in which I knew I was going to raise a dead person back to life! Have you ever been to one? Do any of us know what is going to happen in the future? Do we know what God is going to do? Can we guarantee that the hurting person we are trying to console is going to see God manifest his glory? Can we confidently expect that God is always going to give us a visible sign that will strengthen our faith?

I baptized a husband and wife in their home last week. The man is a hospice patient and he told me of his faith and his desire to receive baptism as a sign and seal of his salvation. They also told me about their family. They had five children. Several years ago, their daughter, a vibrant, caring person, found out her husband had been cheating on her habitually. As their marriage fell apart, she fell into despair and committed suicide. Her family couldn’t believe it. They would never have imagined this would happen to someone like her. They were devastated.

Now what if I had been their pastor at that time and had come to them saying, “Now don’t fear. God will be glorified in this. God will strengthen your faith through this. God will do something miraculous in your life through this that will amaze you and reassure you of his love.”?

If I had said that, this family would not have been prepared for what happened next. A couple of years later, their youngest son’s life also fell apart. He too had been a friendly, talented, and positive young man until his life’s circumstances became unbearable. He also took his own life. Then, just a few weeks ago, their oldest daughter died. Strike three. And now the father is a hospice patient, and we all know his life will end soon. I am so grateful they have faith, but it certainly isn’t because they have seen anything in recent years to indicate God has come to help them in times of great need. They haven’t been given tangible signs of God’s glory.

What can we say to people who go through things like this? They don’t want platitudes, I can tell you that. Christian cliches won’t help. None of us knows the future and what will happen. We can’t guarantee what God is going to do or how or when he’s going to do it. Jesus could say those things because he knew. We don’t.

There is one thing Jesus did in this story that can serve as an example to us. The fact is that he came to his friends, he was with them when they were hurting, and he wept with them. And then, let’s not forget that he pointed them to the ultimate hope that we must all cling to even when there’s not one thing in our life that makes sense, when he said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Now on this occasion Jesus also gave a tangible sign that his promise is true when he raised Lazarus from the dead. That was indeed evidence of the glory of God and it did lead people to believe.

However, it’s actually more complicated than that. You see, when Jesus raised Lazarus it turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Christ’s opponents. From that moment on, they looked for every opportunity to put Jesus to death. In other words, this glorious act of resurrection made it certain that Jesus would go to the cross! In the big picture, raising Lazarus actually made things worse, not better. It led to Jesus’ suffering. It didn’t answer all the questions, it raised even more questions, such as when people mocked Jesus on the cross and said, “Where is God now? Why doesn’t he come to deliver him?” And when Jesus himself cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is comforting to know that Jesus faced the same questions you and I faced, and that he shared in our sufferings, our darkness and our pain.

Like it or not, these questions about why God seems absent, uncaring, or tardy are inevitable questions in our lives. I am encouraged that your pastor loves you enough to address them, for they are a very real part of the life of faith. We cannot escape them or avoid them. We see them played out again and again in our lives and in the lives of those around us. As followers of Jesus, it is our calling to rejoice with those who rejoice in the stable and happy times of life and to weep with those who weep in seasons of pain and distress. We may never experience a “Lazarus” moment when everything becomes clear, when God reveals his glory in spectacular fashion, when we can’t help but believe in the love and power of God to overcome sin and death and sadness. Nevertheless, even when he seems absent, Jesus will be with us, weeping with us, speaking the word of ultimate hope.

Frederick Buechner is a Presbyterian minister who writes profound and memorable books. He has also experienced these kinds of questions in his own life. His father committed suicide when Frederick was a young boy, a loss that has haunted him his entire life. His own daughter was seriously ill with anorexia nervosa. Fred Buechner knows what it means to hurt, to question, to doubt, to feel that God is absent, uncaring, or late with help when we need it. But he also knows God’s grace and God’s promises, and here is how he put it:

Here is the world [God says to us]. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.

- Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith

May the Lord bless us and keep us. Amen.

Comments

  1. Robert F says:

    “Second, when Jesus and the disciples finally did set out to go to Bethany, he said to the disciples, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Jesus told them that what was about to take place would give them further reason to believe in him.”

    This is hard to take, even from the mouth of Jesus, who we know, from our familiarity with the narrative, will raise Lazarus from the dead. What kind of a God is it that allows his beloved to suffer and die, who delays his arrival, so that their suffering and death may be material for the growth of other people’s faith? What would I think of the character of a father who, though he could prevent it, allowed one of his small children to suffer a grievous wound, that caused much anguish and suffering to the child, and then healed him, just to prove to his other small children that he had the power to heal such grievous wounds?

    I’ll tell you, I would thing very badly of him, I would think he was not a fit father, I would think that he was cruel and manipulative and unloving. That Jesus did this same thing in the story of Lazarus is disturbing beyond calculation.

    The only way it possibly can seem to be put to right is that a short while later, this same Jesus hung from a cross, participated in the same bitter grievousness he allowed Lazarus to experience, and thereby purchased God’s right to be God in a world where God so often not only waits for the worst to happen, but even seems to plan for the worst to happen.

    Apart from this, as perplexing as it is, all we have is a God who merely uses us like so many non-feeling things for his own purposes, and how would that God be distinguishable from a devil?

    • Yes, the mystery is great. I wonder how the conversations between Jesus and Lazarus and his sisters went after this whole experience.

    • Scott Thank you says:

      You just voiced my greatest fear after years of pain agony and debt. I wonder will the supposed prophetic words fall as nothing if they where really Gods.
      It’s likely this week I have to go to the doctor. Why I sat under a minister and have seen God do miraculous healings. He touched me several years ago I could work again it was amazing. My conscience began to bother me. I made an appointment with my pastor and testified to what God had done but due to the physicality of the job I felt is hould step down and deal wth the health issues still left. The reply no don’t go to the doctor believe God the result in less than two weeks later I was crippled.

      I had finally heard perry stone teach on the sin of presumption.

      I waited several weaks and went to a chiropractor which I would not have done having had insurance and a family physician but my job and insurance where gone. With in about a month I had pains and aches I was laid up for another month my stomach tore out and my hips cut thru my flesh to scar the front… I have not been able to work although a feeble attempt in several years that ended with me being layed out. The resulting injury from the chiropractor took so long to show up it was impossible to prove. having just turned forty I am now a burden to my retired parents. The pastor knows has ministered to several million and though I attended many years has offered no help and canceled most appointments I ever made. I trust that God will be just in dealing with this man on judgment day as I found out his imbalanced distortion of doctrine has destroyed lives families and ministries it seems. Well known in the U.S. and overseas nationally..when I go to the doctor this time I wonder after 6 hellish years of sometimes laying on the floor holding my crushed guts screaming in pain and crying out to God why are you making me live. If my faith will hold up anymore.it is hard to discern who is doing what and if anyone cares at this point other than the family I am now a costly burden to..

      • I don’t have any idea what to say in response to your statement of agony and despair, except that I hear it. I haven’t had anything like this happen, and it seems horrible to me that it could happen, especially here in the richest country in the world. You have had terrible ministers and an awful chiropractor, and now you are suffereing continually. No pious words could make a difference, even if I had them. I am just so sorry.

      • Robert F says:

        Scott Thank you, I don’t know what to say. My heart goes out to you, it does, but I know that’s not of much help to you, that it doesn’t relieve your suffering. I hope that somehow someway you will have relief, and that somebody can find a way to help you.

  2. There are so many emotions in this passage, that it seems to blot out faith, but Jesus is one who takes control of the situation,because He realises and anticipates the weaknesses and works with them. Not once did Jesus condemn Mary and Martha for their weakness or lack of faith but rather used the situation for His work. so their faith could increase. Today sadly we judge others by their weaknesses and call that a lack of faith.

  3. This is the last sermon in a series; you should get the list of texts and reverse engineer the rest of the series. You know, purely for out benefit :-)

    • +1 An excellent thought as we celebrate Mother’s day. There will be many out there who are missing their mother today, and wondering why.

  4. Thank you for your words today. If I could find a church in my area that would have this type of sermon on Mother’s Day, I wouldn’t have to skip every year.

  5. Dr. Neurobrain says:

    For most people God never comes at all. He never came for my father as he crawled through his own shit to the bathroom expiring before he made it. He never came for my grandmother as her insides rotted with cancer.
    He never came for Rwanda. He never came for the holocaust. He has never, ever come for anyone ever.

    If your God exists at all he is not a tardy parent.

    He is an absentee father.

    • I respect your cynicism – it sounds hard earned. As for Rwanda and the holocaust, though, I have a hard time blaming God for human depravity and wickedness.

      • Robert F says:

        ” As for Rwanda and the holocaust, though, I have a hard time blaming God for human depravity and wickedness.”

        But when those caught as victims in the midst of that human depravity and wickedness call out in their extremity for help, they very often call out to God. And so it becomes his responsibility, though it was produced by humanity. The question then is: why does he not “ever come for anyone ever,.” though they call out to him?

        • Robert F.

          That is indeed the question. I have never seen an answer to it that was even worth repeating.

        • Robert, I don’t believe for a moment that God has not “ever come for anyone ever.” Certainly, there are many stories of remarkable deliverances and of acts of mercy and salvation experienced through the kindness of people. As someone once said, maybe when we are asking, “God where are you? Why don’t you act?” he replies, “Friend, where are you? Why don’t you act? — I want to act through you!”

          That is not to say that anyone could ever explain satisfactorily how such monstrous events could happen, or what God’s relationship to them is. But when we say, “Why didn’t God act?” what do we mean by that? What do we expect? A “Red Sea” type intervention? How many times has that happened?

          On the other hand, how many times have good people stepped forward, in small ways and big, and shown God’s love to their neighbors by protecting them and helping them in extreme situations? Perhaps God wants to work through people as his main means of intervention more than we realize. And perhaps we don’t cooperate with him nearly enough. As long as there are people able to stand against forms of human evil, I find it hard to blame God.

          I have a much harder time with other kinds of suffering that don’t involve active human depravity.

          • Robert F says:

            Yes, God obviously does sometimes “show up” at the “right time,” and I’m aware of that.

            But I wanted to echo Dr. Neurobrain’s comment, because there’s a sense in which within each person is circumscribed an entire world, and all it takes is for God not to show up in one such person’s world, say a person like the child that Dostoevsky describes in The Brothers K, crying for dear sweet Jesus to help her as her parents brutalize her, all it takes is one such (and there have been many more than one) non-appearing in one such world of one such person to warrant the cry of dereliction ” He has never, ever come for anyone ever…”

          • “This is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen.” Both happened to Jesus too, which I guess is where I rest my faith. I cannot explain God’s relationship to the world except in Jesus, in whom I see all the beauty and horror of life displayed.

          • Robert F says:

            CM, though I’m as troubled by the question of God’s relationship to suffering caused by human depravity as suffering from non-human causes (I find it difficult to distinguish between the two, since this is all God’s world), I share your faith in Jesus. But not because there is any theodicy that can adequately justify the existence of innocent suffering (and those who deploy the doctrine of original sin to say that there is no innocent suffering I find completely unconvincing, and I don’t believe that they really believe what they’re saying themselves).

            In the face of certain kinds of all-too common suffering, there is no answer, not even the response of compassionate service, that can address the existential anguish that arises from the deep wound of outraged and traumatized innocence. We do not know why, we are reduced to silence, and our service is woefully inadequate to the need. There is a gaping wound in the very fabric of creation.

            How long, Lord, how long….

          • I think you just expressed the message of Job — we cannot by wisdom grasp the mysteries of life or the ways of God.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      Actually, God is neither a tardy parent, nor an absentee father. He came to earth in human form to show that it’s the brokenness of the world that makes it seem that way, and He came to earth to live through the same agony and disappointment that we live through. Regarding Rwanda and the Holocaust…man’s corruption by power helped lead to those, not God…same corruption in leaders that took His son’s life. So He’s a God who’s lived through the shit and experienced the shit and probably even shit while nailed naked to the cross…oh the humiliation.

      And yes…God has come for some. Perhaps “many.” Perhaps “all.” Anyway, testimonies abound in those He’s come for. And while something might happen tomorrow or the next day that makes me “feel” like doubting that, I can look to Jesus as an example of someone who “felt” forsaken, yet knew he wasn’t.

      • Christiane says:

        I think about the Holocaust, and how the survivors and the people descending from the survivors of the camps lovingly keep the memory of those who died in those terrible places . . . and how they also honor the memory of those who tried to help (there is in Israel, a monument to them, called the ‘Avenue of the Righteous’) . . .

        sometimes I think there are two ways to respond to suffering . . . despair being one, but then we still find many examples of those ‘righteous people’ in our world who, seeing the suffering, instead of despairing, move towards it, embrace it, and do what CAN be done for its victims. They don’t give in. And they don’t give up. They live in the knowledge that there can be for the ones they help, a chance, or maybe some respite from loneliness and grief.
        As long as these ‘righteous people’ exist among us, I don’t see ‘despair’ triumphant.
        And that tells me that ‘despair’ is not supposed to have the last word in our world.

        Those survivors of the ‘camps’ and their descendents? Many of them are active today among these ‘righteous people’ who live a life that says a strong ‘NO’ to the evil of the Holocaust. They give hope to me, and to many by their example.

    • I am so sorry about your father and grandmother.

  6. If Jesus knew what was going to happen, why did he weep? Maybe because it is a human thing to do, or maybe because he knew this friend he loved was going to have to come back to finish out his time on this planet of extraordinary beauty and pain.

    Maybe the point is not whether God is late arriving or a no-show, but that we are looking for Him in the wrong direction, outward instead of within, where He was all along. What if that was the whole point of all this mess we call life on Planet Earth? What if that was the whole point of all that Jesus taught and demonstrated?

    • Robert F says:

      “If Jesus knew what was going to happen, why did he weep?”

      Perhaps as Jesus gazed on the tomb where Lazarus’ corpse lay, he foresaw another tomb in a garden a few weeks away, the tomb where his own corpse would be laid to rest; maybe he thought of all he would have to suffer before he found his way to that garden tomb, and he wept in anticipatory grief for himself and his suffering and the sins of the world that he would have to bear alone. He was a human being, after all, with a human being’s feelings, and fears.

  7. Anna P. says:

    I so badly needed this today, it could not a be a coincidence. Praise the Lord, and bless you!

  8. Rick Ro. says:

    On the surface, this is definitely one of the more puzzling scriptures in the Bible. To me, to get at the “why” of the incident, you almost have to look at what the message would’ve been had it played out as everyone involved wanted it to, and even as we (the reader) want it to. If Jesus had responded immediately, gotten to Lazarus, and healed him before dying, all we’d be left with is a story about a vending-machine, magic wand Jesus. We’d be preaching and hearing sermons about “See what Mary and Martha did! They ran to him, and he helped! So…run to Jesus today, and he’ll help right now! Scripture records it! His word DEMANDS it!”

    But no…instead we get a different kind of Jesus. A non-magic wand, a non-vending machine Jesus. To me, then, the “why” of the incident is: “You know what? Life sucks. People will die. Not everything will get ‘fixed’ like we want it. And Jesus knows that, and it makes him cry.”

  9. Rick Ro. says:

    Oh…great sermon, by the way, CM!!

  10. The bottom line is that any attempt to ‘explain’ God’s inaction….is a sad attempt at rationalization. The testimony of many here today rings a chord in my own heart. We say we believe in ‘God’….as a ‘loving Father’….yet we condone actions from Him that, if a human father were to perform….we’d be the first to call for capital punishment….or stoning. We CERTAINLY wouldn’t categorize such ‘parents’ as ‘loving fathers and mothers’.

    How can we synchronize the dichotomous pictures…that we derive from the ‘Book’…..and some people’s testimony….with that of the vast majority….for whom God simply does NOT answer ‘prayer’? Beats me! What we SHOULD NOT DO, however, is render pious platitudes to hurting people, or, worse yet, guilt trips laid on them. IE: “You must not have enough faith….or…..There must be hidden sin in your life”

    I have to admit that in more than six decades on this planet….I’ve experienced things that can only be called ‘miraculous’….but far more, I’ve experienced an utter lack of answer to heartfelt cries to God for succor. Can the ‘miracles’ have alternate explanations? Absolutely! After all, even NON-believers experience unexplainable healing…and that without prayer.

    Do I still ‘believe’ in God? Yes, but IN SPITE of the record….not BECAUSE of it. As humans, we seek pattern and meaning in life….especially in difficult times of suffering. When we ‘seek’ such….we often ‘find it’…..not that it’s real, but simply because in seeking a ‘pattern’….we’ll find it, much as the voodoo practitioner finds meaning in the sink full of chicken entrails.

    When someone miraculously survives a horrendous crash….and they attribute it to the ‘hand of God’…..are they trying to tell us that God loves THEM MORE…than all those who DIED in the crash? Why then, in fairness, do people then not BLAME GOD for the OTHER deaths? After all, IF He could save the one….He could easily have saved them all, right? OR…are they simply seeking, in their own way….to find that ‘meaning’….behind their survival, and the rest of the passengers’ deaths.

    I think we need to be very cautious in either attributing only good things to God….but then failing to attribute the unwanted outcomes to Him also. Such hypocrisy is easily seen through by anyone viewing the situation.

    • Exactly! I cannot see that God intervenes materially in this world. A friend of mine, talking about Corrie Ten Boom’s stories of the Holocaust, said she was so impressed with the vitamin bottle that never seemed to empty as Corrie fed liquid vitamins to the other people in the camps. I said, without thinking much about it, “If God is so powerful, why didn’t he get rid of the camps?” It seemed an obvious question to me, but she was pretty shocked and impressed with it.

      For another, much lesser, example, when a hurricane-force wind blew through here a few years ago, it sent an enormous old oak tree crashing through my front window. I had been sitting in the chair beside that window, but had gone to the kitchen to make a lunch for myself. When I went back, there were glass sherds a foot long lying in my chair and all over the room. A couple days later a reporter came to take pictures of the tree and the house, and asked me to describe the incident. At the end he apparently wanted me to express gratitude to God for my survival, because he said, “It looks like somebody was looking out for you.” I said, “I don’t know. I’m not sure. A 12-year-old boy was killed in this wind, and a young couple just starting out. Why would God take the trouble to save an old woman, but let those people be killed? I just don’t understand how that works.”

      I think God may, perhaps, on some occasions intervene miraculously in human affairs, but it seems very rare and certainly not in any way according to the person’s merit. I think God speaks to our hearts and offers Himself as our unfailing moral guide through life. I would like to believe that in an afterlife, pain and sorrow and injustice will be balanced out by joy, but I can only hope for an afterlife, not be sure of it.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        ->”I think God may, perhaps, on some occasions intervene miraculously in human affairs, but it seems very rare…”

        —————

        Okay, I’ll toss this thought out there for people to mull on. Maybe God is intervening more miraculously in our lives than we realize. I had this semi-revelation a couple years back when reading about a woman’s recurrence of breast cancer after several years of being cancer-free. Her praises to God were that He had given her several years of being cancer-free, and she was choosing NOT to wonder why her cancer had returned.

        So my semi-revelation was this: Perhaps God is intervening more miraculously in our affairs, lives and health than we realize. Perhaps my good health today is BECAUSE of God. Perhaps He is helping PUT OFF the cancer I might eventually get (or the Alzheimers, or whatever). Maybe His hand is more active in the GOOD we are experiencing. Perhaps an airliner would’ve gone down today except for His saving hand. And maybe the rough parts that come our way are moments in which He’s releasing the world and the brokenness of sin to do what it does, just as He released the world and man’s brokenness to take Jesus.

  11. It seems that we are saying, in part, that if Jesus does not show up while the body is still warm and breathing, that he hasn’t shown up at ALL ! In some cases, in my belief system, he shows up in time to take the suffering soul out of this world and into His arms. IF we believe in life everlasting and the communion of saints, how can we insist that if the rescue isn’t in this life, and allowing the person to continue on this earth, that it didn’t happen??