I relate so much with the story of Lazarus and his sisters; how close they were and how much they loved each other. I could relate with how the sisters mourned and suffered the loss of their brother after his death. Just like Mary and Martha, I had asked the question, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21).
I remember pleading with Jesus to be with my brother as I spoke with him on the phone, and as I drove down to his apartment, and as I sat on a curb waiting to get to him. Over and over, “Lord, please be with my brother.”
Ever since my brothers death, I have found comfort in the fact that Jesus was there with him that night. Whenever the scene comes to my mind, I immediately insert Jesus into the picture. With Jesus in the room there is comfort; the dim light in the room changes and the whole room glows with His glory. Although it took me four very long months, this image of Jesus holding my brother was extremely valuable in helping me to be able to turn the lights off and be able to once again sleep in the dark. This image was life changing for me.
But the other morning, as I was reading the story of Lazarus out of Desire of Ages, I came across a few disturbing sentences that absolutely devastated me. “Had Christ been in the sickroom, Lazarus would not have died; for Satan would have had no power over him. Death could not have aimed his dart at Lazarus in the presence of the Life-giver. Therefore, Christ remained away” (p. 528). Christ remained away? I was confused. If God wasn’t able to be with Lazarus so Satan could “aim his dart of death” then was He able to be with my brother? The thought of my brother alone during that awful time was extremely disturbing to me and Satan attacked.
Did Christ have to remain away so that death could come to my brother? Was David alone that night? Must Christ remain away every time there is devastation and destruction? Is Satan not able to “aim his dart of death” in the presence of Christ? How is this so when He has promised us a comforter in difficult times? My mind reeled and I struggled…
For one entire day, I was unsure whether Jesus had been with my brother that night. I talked it over with a friend who kept pointing me back to our loving Father and reminded me that Jesus wept. Jesus wept. He loves us so much that He wept because He saw all of the suffering we all were to endure. “His heart was pierced with the pain of the human family of all ages and in all lands” (p.534). He wept for me that day, He wept for my family. And He wept for you. His heart wept that day because He knew of our pain and He was heartbroken we would have to endure it.
But we don’t have to bear it alone. Ellen White says this, “Apparently Mary and Martha and the dying Lazarus were left alone. But they were not alone. Christ beheld the whole scene, and after the death of Lazarus the bereaved sisters were upheld by His grace” (p.528). Even though Christ stayed away, the sisters were not alone. We are never left alone. “…The moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness upon the darkest part of their way” (p. 528). The ability to be thankful for this moment is only conceivable, only obtainable because of Jesus.
Another friend, without knowing I was upset that day, said these words, “God has promised to give us all we need.” I knew this to be true and so I clung to the fact that God loves us and has promised us that He would never leave us or forsake us; and that He would send us a comforter: “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). He has promised to give us all we need. Even if Jesus had to leave my brother, to allow his death, He gave him all he needed. This knowledge brought me comfort. Because God promised me that, He promised us that. I am grateful for the friends that reminded me of this.
The next day I recieved guidance from a pastor friend. He explained the story of Lazarus and how it was essential for Christ to remain away so that He was able to perform His greatest miracle. This was the miracle that would help people truly believe that He was God’s Son. He explained that it was a different time when Jesus walked the earth, but that he believed, without a doubt, that Jesus was there with David that night. I was ecstatic! Jesus was there with him that night! He was not alone!!!
Through the story of Lazarus we are shown without a doubt, that Jesus is Lord and that His love for us is beyond anything we can imagine. This story offers Hope of a time when He will come again, raise our loved ones from the grave, and reunite us all.
So how is Satan able to aim his dart within the presence of Christ? I do not have the answer to this question. But I do know that one day we will receive it from God Himself. Right now, I am comforted and sure of the fact that my brother was sent a comforter in the most hopeless and desperate moments of his life. And most of all, I believe that God knows the end from the beginning; He sees the whole picture and He allowed my brother’s death for some great good. We live in a sinful and evil time, but we must remember when bad things happen, that we are not left alone. I know He was there with my bother, I know He has been here with me. And I know He is there with you as well.