When facing difficult circumstances it can be hard to understand “why.” Chris Tiegreen in the Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible uses the story of Lazarus to give us insight into how and why we can trust even when it seems hopeless.

Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible

“But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.'” John 11:4, NLT

Lazarus was a “dear friend” of Jesus, as were his sisters, Mary and Martha. So when the sisters sent a message to Jesus that their brother was near death, it would have seemed natural for Jesus, the healer, to hurry to Bethany to see him. Yet Jesus remained where he was, across the Jordan, at least a day’s walk from Lazarus. And he assured his followers that Lazarus’s sickness would not end in death.


Jesus’ delay seemed inexplicable when he arrived after Lazarus had died. He had spoken with assurance about the situation yet showed up too late.
As implied by Martha’s piercing statement—“If only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (11:21)— the sisters must have wondered if he really cared. And the disciples must have wondered if he had tragically miscalculated the situation. Apparently, Lazarus’s sickness really did end in death.

But Jesus never said Lazarus wouldn’t die. He simply said this was not how the story would end. His sense of urgency was far different than theirs, just as God’s deliberate work in our prayers and problems violates our sense of urgency. God sees the end of the crisis even while we’re stressed about it.

And he often has a solution we would never dare to imagine.


Jesus deliberately demonstrated a truth that answers many of the “whys” we utter in our crises: that problems and pain become a platform for his glory. We would never know many of God’s most beautiful attributes otherwise. We’d never know him as healer without a sickness, as deliverer without a captivity, as forgiver without some sin as the backdrop. That doesn’t mean he creates these evils, but he certainly utilizes them. When our “why did this happen?” turns into “how do you want to show yourself in it?” he reveals himself in greater glory.

Learn more about the Dancing in the Desert Devotional Bible.