Our parents spoke of it but we never experienced it ourselves. For them, it colored their values and appreciation for what the Lord had given them. But we had never known it. It hit the world in the late 1920’s and took a World War to overcome: The Great Depression.
We may not have reached that depth of economic distress, but many of the Lord’s people are facing tremendous challenges. There are business men among us who are watching, gripped by a sense of their own impotence, as years of hard work and planning evaporate. They are concerned about employees and families.
There are men among us who are facing unemployment and mouths to feed and bills to pay. Retirees are watching as savings dwindle; near-retirees are startled as pension plans nose-dive. The problems are real. The test has come in our generation, on our watch. And we had no rehearsal for this. There may have been warning signs which the astute noticed on the horizon, but it was only noted by a few.
James tells us that we should rejoice in reversals (James 1:10). Yet the writer of Hebrews also reminds us that no trial through which we are passing is any joy (Heb 12:11).
That unique home in Bethany affords comfort, insight, and hope. When word reached the Savior of the illness of His friend, we see how divine wisdom, love, skill, and purpose responded.
There was awareness of the problem. Divine wisdom was not ignorant. Each day of fever, each gasp for breath, each pain which Lazarus endured was known to the Lord. There was, amidst all, the assurance of His love: “Now Jesus loved Martha” (Jn 11:5). And yet, despite His knowledge of the problem, His love for them, we see the absence of action. “He abode two days still” (v 6). During these days there was the aggravating of the circumstances as Lazarus died.
Were things out of control? Had He acted callously or with indifference? His tears and groans bespeak otherwise. All is intended for the glory of God – His self-revelation. All is intended for the growth of faith in the disciples and the family (v 15). It was for them, as the current economic crisis is for us, a “trying of your faith” (James 1:3).
Is He in control? Is He wise? Is He loving? Does He intend ruin or riches for me? These and a host of others flood the minds of the business man, the provider in the home, the mother as she watches her children grow, the retiree who must stretch each dollar and begin to worry that he might live too long and outlive his savings. Listen to James once more: “When he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life” (James 1:12).
Divine wisdom, love, and purpose have allowed our present circumstances. Divine sovereignty, love, and wisdom will use it for our eternal blessing. Faith in the character of God is ultimately what is at stake.