A Message of Comfort – John 11:17-27
My dear friends, Donald and Lisa Hill, suffered a great tragedy at the end of December. Their son, Donald A. Hill, Jr. had come home from Howard University for the holiday. The younger son of the family was the first to discover that Donald Jr. had passed in the night. The family and community were grief stricken by the loss of the twenty year old athlete and scholar. Donald Jr. died of natural causes.
On Sunday, January 13, 2013, I visited in the church where the Hills pastor. I was invited to speak, and I delivered a message of comfort for the family and community. I share the points below.
The Three C’s of Trials
In John 11 we find the “Three C’s of Trials – the Coming of Trials, the Carrying of Trials, and the Conquering of Trials.
The Coming of Trials – You may believe that the U.S. Census does not know where you are. You may even believe that the IRS does not have your correct address. No wrong address will spare you the coming of trials. Trials come to any and every home. They have come to the homes of humanity since the days of Adam. They have come to the homes of the high and the low.
Trials came to the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Lazarus died. Someone lost a brother, and someone lost a friend. Trials come.
The Carrying of Trials – When trials come we must each bear them. We must carry them. I am sometimes reluctant to relate how I supported my late wife during her illness, kept a job, held a church office, and did graduate school all at the same time. Yet, it comes to mind when I hear the student who cannot keep up with his or her work due to poor planning. We must carry our trials.
Some carry their trials well, and others make the trials worse in the carrying of them. We need someone to help us carry our trials.
What we must know from the passage is that Jesus carried this trial of the loss of Lazarus. His tears were no crocodile tears. He wept. His tears remind us that he was carrying the trial of the loss.
We can find comfort in knowing that even if we pass through the valley of the shadow there is someone there to help us carry our trials. His rod and his staff they comfort us. We are reminded in Psalm 23: 4.
The Conquering of Trials— To face our trials we need self-confidence. Perhaps your self-confidence is a bit shaky at times. I know mine is. Here is the great truth – there is someone who can face the trials of life with full self-confidence, Jesus. His maintained a perfect relationship with the Father. He has always done the will of the Father. In the passage he approaches the sealed tomb. I do not know what the attendants thought when he asked them to remove the stone. Perhaps they thought it was a dare, or perhaps they thought they would wait and see. They moved the stone and waited.
The command was straightforward, direct, and effective. He commanded, and Lazarus responded. At Jesus’s command Lazarus stepped from the chamber of death into life.
So, when our self-confidence flags, we have someone to trust to conquer the trials. We have confidence in someone whose self-confidence is perfect. We are reminded that Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” As the children say, “He’s got it like that.” Jesus is someone who can conquer our trials when we turn to him in faith.
May you find comfort in the words of the Gospel.