"Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and
I will give you rest."
"This sickness is for the glory of God, that the Son of
God might be glorified thereby." John 11:4
"Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake
him out of sleep." John 11:11
Deepest of all mysteries, burden of all burdens--the
early death of loved ones. "To what purpose is this waste?" Life perishing
in its prime--the apparent flinging to the void a garnered store of
intellect, goodness, friendship, worth! We can understand the aged decaying
inhabitant of the forest, that has fulfilled its appointed years, succumbing
to the axe or swept down by the storm. But why touch the vigorous sapling,
or the tree in the glory of its early summers?
Such were the thoughts that must have hovered over the
casket of the beloved brother at Bethany, the center and brightener of a
beautiful home. Many of the circumstantials, too, specially the sequel of
the trial, were passing strange. When the Master was sent for at His distant
place of sojourn, why the inaction? We imagine that when the messenger
speeds with the tidings, "Behold, he whom You love is sick," not a moment
would be lost in recrossing Jordan and hastening up the gorges of Judea to
restore His friend. To delay an unanswered quest would be unlike His kind
heart and customary prompt procedure.
He would teach His church in every age that there is a
tarrying love which, in certain circumstances, is as true as the
instantaneous intervention, the immediate response. In the present case, he
lingers "two days" before support is given. The weary and heavy-laden
sisters, faint with watching and waiting and weeping, expect, hour after
hour, their burden to be removed. Their Lord indefinitely continues it. Two
days and two nights are they subjected to a trial as bewildering as their
own personal bereavement--the trial of baffled hopes and unanswered prayers.
"And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship
was covered with the waves--but He was asleep" (Matt. 8:24). The
Hospice-gate of Hope seems mysteriously barred. "Has God forgotten to be
His people have ever been at times subjected to similar
dealings--the seemingly unkind postponement in their hours of anxiety and
soul-struggle--whether the prolonged, the apparently unnecessary discipline
of pain, when every nerve becomes a chord of agony, or the equally acute
torture of prolonged vigils by the couch of loved ones, or the anxieties and
forecastings of the future.
O faithless hearts in that Judean village, to doubt for a
moment in your passionate grief your Lord's unwavering love and fidelity to
His promises! O faithless hearts among ourselves, that would still echo the
spirit of Martha's and Mary's plaintive monotone, the unworthy
reflection--"Lord, if You had been here, this our brother had not died!" If
You had been here, this sore calamity would not leave befallen us!
Hush the reclaiming word! He is here. He who put
the burden on keeps it on. As sure as at last He stood in the grave-yard of
Bethany--shed sympathetic tears and spoke sympathetic words, gave the needed
answer to prayer and the needed rest to weary souls--so will He, in the case
of all, vindicate at last the wisdom and righteousness and love of His
procedure. Behind the cloud-lands of life He is evolving good out of evil
and order out of confusion.
He will repeat, as the reason for each mysterious
dispensation--He will write, if need be, the record on every sick-bed, the
epitaph on each early grave--"For the glory of God, that the Son of God
might be glorified thereby."
"What I do you know not now; but you shall know
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest. This is
the place of repose." Isaiah 28:12