Have you ever noticed that sometimes things aren’t as they seem?
Our first fall together, my husband and I were attempting to hang up drapes in our home on Halloween night. Inexperienced at matters of domestication, we were attempting to hang really heavy pleated drapes on a flimsy thin rod; he up on the ladder while I remained on the floor unwrapping packages. The doorbell kept ringing with shouts of “trick or treat,” while he attempted to hold the sagging bow of the curtain rod up for support as we muddled through our first home project together.
As a relatively new transplant to south Florida, I had not yet become acquainted with many of the flora, fauna, or even the critters that hid within them. In the middle of “ding-dong,” “trick or treat,” as I tore open the next package, out of the corner of my eye I saw a creature flee from the wrapping…scurrying fast across our living room carpet.
I did what any take-charge, go-getter female would do when she thought it was a mouse!!
I grabbed the hammer from next to me and went after it with full gusto, only to hear a loud, alarming, “NO!!!” from on top the ladder.
You see, things are not always as they seem.
What I “thought” was a mouse was the largest cockroach-type creature I have ever seen: the south Florida Palmetto bug. That just took disgusting to a whole new level!
My husband was envisioning palmetto bug guts splattered across our floor and drapes, while I was envisioning peaceful sleep without concern for wayward mice. Yet I only had a glimpse from my floor-side view. He could see the entire picture of what was unfolding from his lofted perch on the ladder.
God’s been teaching me a lot recently about how things are not always as they seem.
In the Scriptures when we read of Jesus’s friend Lazarus dying, things were not as they seemed. When Jesus was summoned because Lazarus was sick, Jesus made the point then to say that “this sickness will not end in death” (John 11:4 NIV). While Mary and Martha must have been pacing at Lazarus’s side, Jesus continued about His ministry, healing those He encountered along the way, seemingly not in any rush to get to his dying friend’s side.
But then, things are not always as they seem.
When Jesus finally arrived at the home of his beloved friends, Martha ran out to greet Him. Devastated at the loss of her brother, she was quick to remind Jesus that this devastation did not need to happen, “if only…”
If only Jesus had come earlier.
If only Jesus cared.
If only Jesus had changed His travel agenda.
If we continue reading in John 11, we see that Mary’s reaction to Jesus’ arrival was much the same. “If only…”
You fill in the blank. What “if only…” are you struggling with today?
What we see is but a small piece of the puzzle, while all around us God is fitting the entire puzzle together into a perfect masterpiece.
Things are not always as they seem.
Jesus knew that his plan to delay his arrival to Lazarus’s side for the long-term benefit of His friends, not just their short-term comfort!
He wanted to give them an experience of the magnitude of His power, to instill in them a greater manifestation of hope!
By tarrying 3 days, the only way Mary and Martha’s brother could come back to life would be with supernatural intervention. The stuff miracles are made of.
He wanted to show them, things are not always as they seem.
In their hardest day, Jesus infused Mary and Martha with hope for the future.
Have you ever gone through times like that? Hard days, gut-wrenching days, when discouragement welled up within you and spilled out in every direction, only to see purpose in His plan at a later time?
Pain wracked my body as I lay alone on the cold tile of my bathroom floor, too weak to return to the comfort of my bed. So sick for days, dehydration set in, bringing with it muscle cramps from the lack of vitamins and nutrients, and visual disturbance.
For quite some time the pain, nausea, vomiting, and disturbed vision continued in disturbing proportions. I’d become so exhausted that sleep sounded like a better offer than chocolate or diamonds, but I’d drift off only to be awakened with searing pain or the ever-familiar rumbling of my stomach. Friends prayed, texted, called.
I’d love to tell you that I handled it like a saint, singing like I was part of a heavenly choir. But instead, I was a little more like Mary and Martha as I contemplated the many “If only…” scenarios that ran through my head.
Yet through the dark and sleepless nights, as pain erupted through my body, I sensed that things were not just as they seemed and there was something else happening. It wasn’t all about me, or my cry for healing. I had endless hours to pray my heart out for the needs of friends, family, and patients.
Through those days He opened up my heart with an even greater burden for the needs around me. My compassion reached a whole new level as I heard the cries of others who were awake and alone, unaware that they were not really alone, for He promises to never leave us.
And my trust in Him expanded. In the middle of one very dark night, when I thought it might actually be possible to break from pain, I cried out to Him in much the way Mary and Martha did: “Come soon, your friend is sick!” And within moments a text message lit up my room saying, “I’m here for you, Dear One.” And I knew through the kindness of a friend, He was, offering me hope.
Sometimes the hardest days end up bringing the most hope.
On those days when everything in us cries out, “If only…” we need to instead say, “I trust you, Lord.”
Will you trust Him with your “If only…” and see your hope renewed?
Will you hold onto your hope, that things are not always as they seem, and that truly He works ALL things together for those who love Him?
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!