Don’t Have to Become Disasters
Bishop Timothy R. Carter
Founder/President, Solution Ministries
Locate with me John 11
Your Disappointments Don’t Have to Become Disasters
Your disappointments don’t have to become disasters. In the next few moments we are going to nail this down and flesh it out. All of us experience disappointments from time to time don’t we? These disappointments don’t have to become disasters.
Please understand I am not down-playing your difficulties, your disappointments or your tragedies. Some of your disappointments represent great loss. I am not trying to minimize your disappointments at all. What I am saying is that we can rise above our disappointments, above our tragic circumstances. They don’t have to be our downfall; we don’t have to let disappointments, difficult situations steal our joy, destroy our self esteem, or assassinate our character. Rather as we commit our self to Christ and rise above them we will build strong character. Our disappointments don’t have to be catastrophic. We don’t have to let them determine what we are or what we will become and what our future will be.
We have many coping strategies for reacting to our disappointments. Many times we cope by putting up our defenses. We say, “boy, I will never be hurt that way again.” So we love less. We are afraid of loving because we know that the deeper we love, the greater the pain if we are hurt. We reject others before they can reject us. Some of us have been hurt in relationships, we feel that we have been belittled and betrayed. Some of us are disappointed in our ideas; perhaps our hopes are not being met, our goals are not being fulfilled, our ambitions seem to be destroyed. Some are disappointed in their career choices; the chosen profession just does not measure up to what we expected. Maybe because of family situations, some are very disappointed. I hope that we can realize today that regardless of the disappointments, they do not have to become disasters.
Let’s look at history for a moment to see how others have handled disappointments.
Harland Sanders was born to a Presbyterian family in Henryville, Indiana. His father, Wilbur David Sanders, died when Harland was five years old, and—since his mother worked—he was required to cook for his family. He dropped out of school in seventh grade. When his mother remarried, he ran away from home because his stepfather beat him. During his early years, Sanders worked many jobs, including steamboat pilot, insurance salesman, railroad fireman, farmer, and enlisted in the Army
At the age of 40, Sanders cooked chicken dishes and other meals for people who stopped at his service station in Corbin, Kentucky. Since he did not have a restaurant, he served customers in his living quarters in the service station (“Colonel Sanders.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonel_Sanders> Retrieved 2-25-10).
At the age of 65 years-old he would sit in his rocking chair on his front porch in Louisville, Kentucky thinking about his sad life. Sanders was broke, his only income $105.00 per month in Social Security. He was very disappointed with his life. As he sat on his porch having his pity party he began to think about his mother’s home-cooked deep fried chicken. He decided to try selling his mother’s fried chicken but couldn’t find any buyers. After many disappointments Sanders met Pete Harman in Salt Lake City, Utah and together they opened the first "Kentucky Fried Chicken" outlet in 1952. In 1964, when Sanders was 75 years old, he sold the entire "Kentucky Fried Chicken" franchising operation for $2 million dollars. He did not let his disappointments become disasters (“KFC.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KFC#cite_note-mash-9> Retrieved 2-25-10).
Thomas Monaghan wanted to play short stop for the Detroit Tigers, but because of a widowed mother and financial difficulties at home he had to quit school and get a job to support his family. He paid his brother’s way through college. He tried to go to college himself three different times because he wanted to be an architect, but was unable to finish because of difficult circumstances.
Finally he and his brother together bought a small pizza store called “DomiNick's” in Ypsilanti, Michigan. It was located in a bad part of town. They could not get customers to come into that part of town to buy their pizzas. Thomas had the idea that if they would not come to the pizza he would take the pizza to them. Today this small pizza store is called “Domino's Pizza.” In 1998 Thomas Monaghan sold his controlling stake in Domino's Pizza to Bain Capital, an investment firm based in Boston, for an estimated $1 billion dollars.
He never became a shortstop for the Detroit Tigers but in 1983 he bought the team and in 1984 they won the World Series (1983-1992).
Thomas Monaghan did not let his disappointments become disasters (“Thomas Monaghan.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Monaghan> Retrieved 2-25-10).
Lance Armstrong, a professional road racing cyclist at the age of 25, recognized that possibly his championship cycling days had come to an end when cancer attacked his body in several places. Yet he refused to let these disappointments to become disasters. He became more determined to press forward. He became only person to win the Tour de France seven times. Actually, he set his record of seven consecutive years from 1999 to 2005 (“Lance Armstrong.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lance_Armstrong> Retrieved 2-25-10).
In 1953 Norm Larsen designed a formula to prevent corrosion, by displacing the standing water that causes it. WD-40 stands for "Water Displacement - 40th Attempt" It took Larsen 40 attempts to get it right and only later was it found to have numerous household uses. He did not let 39 disappointments become disasters (“WD-40.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WD-40> Retrieved 2-25-10).
The Word of God:
These are human interest stories but we can look to something more substantial—the Word of God.
Turn with me to John chapter 11.
In this chapter we will see some individuals who experience grave disappointments.
You may know something about this Gospel. The Gospel of John is called “The Gospel of Belief.” He always uses the verb “Believe” not the noun “Faith.” He emphasizes the verb “Believe.” He uses this verb “Believe” 96 times. This word is in our passage several times today.
This Book is also called “A Sign Gospel.” It is called this because John uses the word miracle to show a sign of God’s will or power. There are other words for miracle. Mark for example uses the Greek word “δύναμαι” which is to show “Power.” But John uses this Greek word “ἐξουσία” which is a sign miracle. It not only accomplishes human need but it points beyond the human need. It points to an eternal truth. Throughout this Gospel there are seven different sign miracles and this is the seventh one.
Also this Gospel holds the “I Am” sayings of Christ. In our passage today is the fifth of seven “I Am” sayings of Christ.
Jesus has been preaching in Judea. It has become dangerous for him because as you may recall they tried to stone him to death in Judea. So He and His disciples leave Judea; they go across the Jordan River to Perdea to do some ministry there. While there His friend Lazarus becomes sick. Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, understanding the power of Christ, send a message to Jesus, “Lord he whom you love is sick.” The word they use here for “love” means the one you are affectionate toward. He is your friend. So they were saying, Lord, your friend is sick.
Notice they are aware that Jesus has the love. Jesus has the power and they made Him aware of the need, so because of His love with His power the need would be met.
First, let’s realize something here. God always wills our highest good. Sometimes we don’t know what that is. We don’t know the divine purposes behind what is going one do we? God does not always show that up front. But God always wills our highest good.
When the messengers come to Jesus He tells His disciples, “This sickness is not unto death.” Now that seems odd, right? Because he does die. But Jesus knows the ultimate outcome. When Jesus receives this message he remains in that place two more days. That is an interesting way to respond to a request, right? It seems an odd way to respond to the news that your friend is sick. (use one, but not both of these sentences.)
After 2 days He starts talking to His disciples about Lazarus. He says “Lazarus has gone to sleep and I will go wake him up.” They respond with “Ok, no big deal. If you wake him up he will be ok; he will be healedsavedwhole.” But what Jesus was saying is that Lazarus is dead. The word here for “sleep” is used 14 times in reference to death, even though it is a word for sleep. It is actually only used four times in relationship with actual sleep. This is the way Jesus looks at death for Christians. We are not at the end we are only asleep.
Interesting side note: this Greek word is where we get the word cemetery, a place where many people sleep.
Jesus bluntly corrects them and says “Lazarus is dead and I am going to wake him up and I rejoice for your sakes that I was not there.” Jesus knew that in his presence death was not possible. Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had been there. Jesus said, “I rejoice for your sakes that I was not there. We will go together to wake him in order that you may believe.” These are believers already, right? Yet he is giving them the opportunity to believe more deeply. Also there are others there who are not yet believers who will see and believe. God always wills our highest good.
The Second thing about this is that God’s timing is always right. It certainly did not seem right to Mary and Martha and it did not seem right to His disciples. But it is always right. Jesus operates His life under the will of God, doesn’t He? There is none higher than the Will of God. The Will of God always has the right timing. His disciples question Him, “Jesus you mean to say that you want to go back to Judea where they tried to stone you to death?” He replies, “Yes, because this is God’s Will and if we walk in the light then we are safe.”
Here we can see a brief glimpse of Thomas who said, “Ok let’s go die with Him.” There is a pessimistic courage about this disciple. He is showing a loyalty and allegiance right? Even though he thought they were going to their death he said, “Let’s go with Him.”
Judea is a place of danger yet that is where they are going.
Encounter with Martha:
Notice the encounter of Jesus with Martha. God challenges us to a higher plane of believing. Sometimes God uses our disappointments to challenge us to a deeper level of believing. Rather than becoming devastating and catastrophic, our disappointments can challenge us to a higher plain of living and believing.
Lazarus is dead for sure and there are several things that indicate that:
1)It has been four days since he died. The Jewish people have a belief that the spirit of the person will hover around for three days after they die. On the fourth day the spirit will leave and go on out into eternity because by that time there is no hope of this person rising.
2)Martha: “If you had been here our brother would not have died.”
3)Mary: “If you had been here our brother would not have died.”
4)When they arrive at the tomb Martha protests, “He has been dead for four days; by this time he stinks.”
5)The stone has been placed to seal off the tomb.
Lazarus is dead, no question about that, right?
When Martha hears that Jesus is coming, she goes out to meet Him. Isn’t this characteristic of this lady? Again we hear her say “Lord if you had been here our brother would not have died.” There is disappointment here isn’t there?
1)She makes a proclamation of her faith in Him.
2)She shows that she has confidence in His love.
3)She has confidence in His power.
But we can also hear her disappointment, can’t we? She is disappointed because her brother died. She is not necessarily saying, you should have been here. Rather she is looking back. She is saying “If only.”
If we allow our disappointments to continually point us backwards we will never get on with life as we should. She says, “If only.” “If only you had been here four days ago, my brother would not have died.”
God wants to shift our focus from the past to the possibilities of the future and the power of the present. This is exactly what he does in Martha’s life at this point, isn’t it? He refocuses her perspective when he challenges her faith.
“23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.””
Martha says, “Oh yes, Jesus, I know he will live again in the last day; I believe in the resurrection” (24).
Notice how Jesus responds to this,
“Jesus says to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Wow! What a statement! Then He asks, “Do you believe this?” A shocking question to ask someone in the face of death and disaster, isn’t it?
Notice again the “I Am” statement of our Lord. This identifies Him as Deity. This idenfities Him with the God of Exodus chapters 3 and 4.
“I Am the ever present one! I Am the self existent one! I Am the one who is not dependant on the circumstances! I Am the Almighty!”
“I am the resurrection.” Resurrection is about restoring life and restoring hope.
“I am life itself. From me comes real life.”
Interesting the word, “Zoa” for “life,” is found 31 times in John’s Gospel. This word shows a higher plain of living. It means living above the common life of humanity. We can contrast this word to the other word for life which is “bios.” You can talk about “Biography and Biology.” This word John uses, “Zoa,” is a higher plain of living, not just the duration of life.
Jesus is saying, “The person who accepts a higher plain of living and believes in Me will never die.”
Lazarus dies and Jesus will die so he is most certainly not talking about physical death. Rather He is saying that “The life I give endures beyond physical death.”
One interesting thing Jesus says to His disciples is, “Don’t fear the person who can kill your body because after that they can’t do anything else.” Now that is another interesting statement isn’t it? “Don’t be afraid of man because there are limitations to what man can do.”
So Jesus challenges Martha to a higher believing. I like the way she responds,
“27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
She says, I believe. This word “believe” is stated in the perfect tense so she is saying,
“It is settled! I have believed! I do believe! I will continue believing! In spite of the disappointments, in spite of the circumstances, in spite of the fact that my brother died, I believe! Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the anointed of God! You’re the son of God! You have a special relationship with God! You are the one the prophets said would come and Lord, You are here.”
She said earlier,
“But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
The word she uses here for “Ask” is a word to show inferiority, the inferior one asking the greater one. This is the wrong word to use of Jesus. He never uses it of Himself. Nevertheless, this still shows that she knows that he has a special relationship with the Father.
From one right in the middle of disappointment and grieving, we hear faith.
One thing that the lord wants us to know is the potential of His presence is now. The possibilities of His presence! The power of His presence! The resurrection is not just a future event but it is also NOW!
The resurrection power is not just tied to an event. It is tied to a person and that person is Jesus Christ, our Lord! The resurrection power is NOW! We belong to Him. We have life. We have the resurrection power living inside of us. God’s prevision is there to guide us.
Mary and Martha had expected Jesus to come. But they had expected Him to come sooner. They had expected that Jesus would come and heal their brother. But Jesus had higher purposes in mind. He desires to challenge them to a deeper sense of believing.
Martha goes to find Mary. She finds her sitting in the house, a usual characteristic of Mary.
She tells Mary, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you” (28). Martha calling Jesus “Teacher” is interesting because Rabbis did not teach women. Jesus is her rabbi, she calls Him “Teacher.”
Mary runs out to meet Him and she falls at His feet. This is a usual characteristic of Mary: being at His feet. When she falls to His feet she says, “Lord if only you had been here my brother would not have died.” She is crying and the Jews around are wailing. Mourners have come from Jerusalem which is only one and a quarter mile from Bethany. When she runs out they follow, thinking that she is rushing to the tomb. There is a lot of wailing going on as she talks to the Lord.
Notice what happens here, and it is true for us today. God enters our realm of disappointment and pain. Sometimes we think he is distant from us, don’t we? We feel like he doesn’t know what has happened, and that he has turned His ear away from our prayers. We feel like the answer does not come in our timing so he does not come through for us. He does not answer our prayers. But God finds a way to enter into our disappointments. So he does here.
He groans within Himself, he troubles Himself. He deliberately takes the pain of the situation into Himself. So we see here the Great I Am Deity as the great person of humanity. He weeps now. He weeps!
This word used here in v. 35 to say that “Jesus wept” is different than the word used for the wailing going on. This word is simply that he burst into tears. There is a time when he does wail and that is when he looks over Jerusalem and wails over the opportunities that they have had and wasted. They have stoned the prophets that God sent to them. Now they are going to kill the son of God. He heaves and sobs over them but at this point with Mary and Martha He enters their pain and he weeps.
He enters our pain today. He knows the point of our disappointment and our confusion. He knows our problem. He knows our need today. He knows the origin of our pain and he knows how to take care of it.
Jesus shows the character and power of God. The character and power of God are on the line in our lives; we belong to Him.
So Jesus says again, “Where have you laid him?” (34) They say, “Come and see.”
They take Him to the tomb, to the horrible place of death, to the place of discouragement and disaster.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
“Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?”
He is telling us today that if we will indeed refuse to allow our disappointments to become disasters we can see God’s Glory at work, even in these things.
Most often it is not in spite of the disappointments, but through the disappointments that God reveals His Glory.
Here it is through this disappointment that God illustrates His Glory, isn’t it? He does this in a marvelous way. He does it to increase the faith of His disciples. He does it to increase the faith of Mary and Martha. He does it so that others who have not yet believed would know and believe. He does it to increase our faith today.
Ultimately, through this the religious leaders decide to kill Jesus. This crucifixion of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate manifestation of God’s glory because it is by the cross that Jesus shed His blood; it is by the cross that God gave the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of man.
All of this together says that this is an event that demonstrates the glory of God.
“He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
He came forth and Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Conclusion/ Main Point to Get:
The Main point to get here is there were those who saw the miracle that day but did not see the Glory of God because they did not believe. Others saw the miracle and received the Glory of God. But some went to the enemy and reported what was done bringing about the decision to crucify Jesus.
We can stand right before the manifestation of the Glory of God and miss it because of our unbelief.
Our disappointments today, regardless of what they are, don’t have to become disasters. We have a God who wills the best for us. He desires the highest purpose for our lives. God is always on time. When we go through disappointments, God is challenging our faith to a deeper passion in Him. He will show the character and power of God. May we receive it today. And may we live in it.
Lord, today I pray that You will let Your Word penetrate deep into our hearts. Help us, Lord that Your Word will live inside of us. Help us to not let our disappointments become disasters, instead help us to see the Glory of God.