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Weekly Bible Study
by By Hugh Davidson   
July 1st, 2007

I saw some interesting headstone inscriptions. The first one was from a place called Tombstone Arizona. It says, “Here lies Lester Moore; four slugs from a .44, no Les, no more.” And then one from Lincoln, Maine that says, “Sacred to the memory of Jared Bates who died August the 6th 1800. His widow aged 24, lives at 7 Elm Street, has every qualification for a good wife and yearns to be comforted.” And from a place called Skaneateles, N.Y. “Underneath this pile of stones lies all that’s left of Sally Jones. Her name was Briggs, it was not Jones, but Jones was used to rhyme with stones.” And then finally here’s one from Springdale, Ohio. And it says, “Here lies Jane Smith, wife of Thomas Smith, marble cutter. This monument was erected by her husband as a tribute to her memory and a specimen of his work. Monuments of the same style 350 dollars.” And when I read that, I thought, now here’s a guy who is really committed to his work.

The fear of death is a universal phenomenon because no matter where you go in the world, you’ll always find people who are afraid of dying simply because death is the greatest mystery in life. And since death is considered to be the biggest "unknown" of all, many people, find the very thought of death terrifying. The problem all of us face is that none of us know how long we’ll live and how or when we’ll actually die and we wonder, what will it feel like? What will be waiting for us as we reach the other side? I like how Woody Allen put it when he said, “It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Natives in South America place arrows around the sick person to ward off the “Grim Reaper” and we might think that’s weird but when one of our loved ones die we dress them up and then display them in a way that gives the impression they’re asleep. And I’m sure some of those natives would think we’re just as weird as we think they are. But, it just goes to show that everyone does what they have to do to handle that which is just too hard to face.

In the Bible Jesus encounters the various aspects of life that you and I deal with everyday. He experienced the joy of attending a wedding as well as meeting the needs of a variety of people who crossed His path. There were the physical needs of those who were healed and then there were places where He simply fed those who were hungry. There were the spiritual needs of demon possession and then there were the needs of those who were in the bondage to Satan’s lies when he told them that life was hopeless and that no one could do anything to help. And then we see where Jesus also met those who were sorrowing over the loss of a loved one in John eleven.

And here they were all attending the funeral of Lazarus who had been a friend of Jesus and we see there were plenty of people there. It makes me think that their world was a lot like ours in the sense that we often only see one another at weddings and funerals.

We also see here, the emotional shock that comes to Lazarus’ family. Lazarus had been sick for a while but everyone thought he’d get better and even though we know everyone will die some time, we grow accustomed to having each other around and then the shock really hits us when we finally lose someone. And then there are arrangements to be made and friends to be called and we gather to comfort one another.

And in the midst of this very sad and somber affair we see Jesus arriving and the scripture says He was greeted by the sister’s Martha and Mary before He even reached the house. And if you’re familiar with the New Testament you’ll know that Jesus had often been a guest in their home and when they sent Him messages telling Him that their brother was sick they didn’t even have to mention Lazarus’ name but all they said was, “he whom thou lovest is sick.”

These two sisters were as different as night and day and I’m sure there were as many similarities as there were differences between them. Martha was the practical type. She was always busy doing something and always objective about everything. Mary, on the other hand was always sitting at Jesus feet. She was often worshipping Him and one time we even see her anointing His feet with very expensive oil.

And yet, both of them had the same reaction to Jesus because both of them loved their brother so much that they both said the same thing. They said, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” And what they were saying was, Jesus you raised the dead, healed lepers and opened the eyes of the blind, You could have done something but You didn’t. Why not? Or as we say, if there really is a God of love then why does He let things happen that hurt so much?

These are serious questions. And like the sisters of Lazarus many of us can ask the same things. If God is all wise, then why does He allow people to get sick and die? If God is all powerful then why doesn’t He do something to stop all the suffering? If God is everywhere then where is He when I need Him?

Why does God allow sickness? The Bible teaches us that God has given man a free will and with his free will he can chose to serve God and enjoy His blessings or he can go his own way and suffer the consequences. And as we all know man has chosen to live his life apart from God. The Bible describes us by saying, “There is none righteous, no not one, there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” So, according to the word of God sickness came into the world because of sin.

Why doesn’t God do something to stop all the suffering? The Bible says that God has done something. It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” So, sickness and death are only symptoms of a deeper problem. And that problem is the separation between God and man which was caused by sin.

And so, we might wonder, if God is really everywhere then where is He when I need Him? I mean, why doesn’t God just show up and assure us that everything is alright and that everything is going to work out in the end. And the answer to that is the most difficult to accept of the three. You see, we are told we are to walk by faith and not by sight. I’m sure we’ve all heard of doubting Thomas who said he wouldn’t believe unless he saw the print of the nails in Jesus hands and the hole in His side. Jesus showed him but then gently rebuked him by saying, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” So, where is God when you need Him? He’s as close as the mention of His name. And so we might wonder, has Jesus who wept at a friend’s funeral left us to weep alone? And the answer is no.

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