The rain fell hard as I drove on my way to Tuesday night Bible Study last week. The sound of the rain grew louder as it beat down faster; I strained to see my way through the darkness and rain. The weather paralleled my own stormy soul. I was first quiet as every possible thought that could depress my soul welled up within me. Thoughts of past and present failures, thoughts of things in lives of those close to me… struggles in my own life that I wondered if I’d ever be free from. Lies, disparities, thoughts of “you can’t” or “you’ll never.” You get the picture… As the rain fell harder and harder, my soul grew more and more overwhelmed.
The last thing I wanted to do was go to Bible study, I complained to myself. I began voicing my complaints and despairs to the Lord… and just as I could barely see before me in the physical realm, neither could I see past the storm that raged within.
Then it hit me – I ought to praise the Lord and thank Him, instead of allowing myself to sink into a state of depression. I sighed deeply, and began doing what I should have done from the start. I praised the Lord. I praised Him for Who He is, and what He has done. I thanked Him for things He had given me or people He had brought into my life. Anything He brought to mind.
And as I began to praise Him, my heart went from one of turmoil to one of peace and quiet joy.
Psalm 42 came to my mind and then out my lips…
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation and my God.
The whole Psalm resonated so much with me…
I arrived at Bible study with a heart much more prepared to seek the Lord and learn about Him. I could’ve danced through the rain as I walked into the church building.
The lesson for that evening was on John 11 – the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. There were many points throughout the study that stuck out to me, but for the purpose of this post I will just share one:
Imagine for a moment the scene – Mary and Martha are grieving, Jesus weeps with them, but then instructs them to roll the stone away. Martha questions Him, reminding Jesus that there would be a bad odor with the decay having set in. He tells her that if she believes she will see the glory of God. So they roll the stone away.
After Jesus prays and gives thanks to His Father, He fixes His gaze on the entrance of the tomb. He cries out with a loud, commanding voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And because He is God, He can command the dead to come to life again. (It was speculated that one of the reasons Jesus called Lazarus by name is that everyone in the grave would have risen had He not been specific! This is the power of a few words spoken by our God!) The man that was a few moments ago dead, walks out of the tomb, called to life by Jesus.
What happened next made me stop and think. The Bible describes Lazarus still wrapped in grave clothes. Jesus, seeing this, tells those with Him to unbind Lazarus from the grave clothes and let him go. Why would he that was no longer dead walk about any longer in grave clothes?! And yet, how often do Christians walk about in grave clothes – in all the things that characterized us when we were dead in our sins? But now Jesus has called us to LIFE. We are no longer dead! Let us put off all those things that are of the grave – the depression, anxiety, anger, lust, greed, sexual immorality, pride, selfishiness, being pleasers of man and not of God, etc… And let us put on Christ’s robe of righteousness. We are no longer of the grave, we have life because of grace.
There I was that evening, wearing the disparity and hopelessness of one not alive in Christ… through His strength, I instead put on the garment of praise. He has called us to life, friend. Life eternal. Life abundant. Not just a free pass from hell, but to LIFE.
Jesus said to Martha, “I AM the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
I pray your reply is what Martha answered, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, Who is coming into the world.”
May those of us that believe and are called to life by Jesus, walk and live in His life.