Have you ever seen a baby chick work its way out of its shell?
I admit, I have not seen that before. I would like to. I understand, it’s a painstaking struggle.
Think of that poor baby chick. So vulnerable. So fragile What a humungous job! It might take hours to peck with only its beak to break away the confines of its calcium-based prison. Whoever came up with that idea anyway to give such a huge task to such a weak creature?
I read a story where a child, filled with compassion, decided to help a baby chick with its monumental task of entering the free world. Carefully, she peeled away enough to make the job much easier for the baby chickie. The story rings true. I’m sure there’s been more than one farmer’s kid who, either out of curiosity or compassion, partnered in the birth of a baby chick.
Know what happened? The chicken died! Why? Because the process of pecking away the shell developed the chicken’s muscle tone so that when the last shred of shell fell away, it was strong enough to endure the world. Before, at the beginning of the process, it wasn’t ready.
Jesus heard that his good friend Lazarus was sick. Yet Jesus lingered where he was for several days. Finally, he went to see his special friends. Both Mary and Martha met him with the same accusation on their lips. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21).”
Can you imagine? Both Mary and Martha had probably stood at the road or peeked out the window for almost a week, waiting, longing for their Friend who they believed could do anything. Imagine the knot of anxiety, confusion, and maybe a bit of anger as they waited and waited.
It reminds me of the $10,000 medical bill we owed after my baby daughter had two eye surgeries. In between jobs and about to move to another state, we had no insurance. My husband left me and our two girls to go on to the job, leaving me to wrap up with the doctor and wrestle with the bill-mongers. Several times, I walked the streets, shouting and shaking my fist at God. “It’s not within your will for us to be in debt, your Word says so,” I told God. “If you had provided that job before now, we wouldn’t have to pay this insurmountable debt.”
If Jesus had come promptly to Mary and Martha, Lazarus would have been healed. But the question would always remain – did Jesus heal him or did his illness follow its natural course and he got well anyway? Few would have actually known of the healing and many would have doubted. Yet, when Lazarus came back to life, there was no doubt in that large crowd’s mind that they had seen the power of God.
And Mary and Martha weren’t ready yet. Martha, the thinker, needed to get to the point of saying, “I know that even now, God will give you whatever you ask (v. 22),” “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (v. 24),” and “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world (v. 27).”
I wasn’t ready yet. I hadn’t pecked enough doubt away to affirm my faith in God. One more day, I walked the streets while a friend babysat my girls. “Okay God, whatever,” I prayed. “I know You have the power to take care of us – moving, Christine’s eyesight, this huge bill. However You want to manage it is fine with me. I want whatever will bring you the most glory.”
Two days later, at Christine’s final doctor’s visit, the accountant met me at the door. “Have you heard,” she asked. “Hamilton County is paying your medical bills in full. We tried to reach you Friday but couldn’t.”
That’s because I wasn’t ready yet.
“I don’t understand,” she said.”Usually it takes months for the county to come through. Your application went through in just a few weeks.”
Some people believe that God should eradicate all suffering. At the very least, He shouldn’t let us suffer very long. But like the baby chick, if He was in the business of quick fix-it solutions and easy rescues, we would end up with flabby faith, doubting whether it was Him, ourselves or the natural course of things that delivered us from the pain we abhor. Like the case of Lazarus death, God is waiting for the right moment for us – and others – to see His mighty power so there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Lord has done this amazing thing.
What turmoil do you face? Don’t give up! If you allow the situation to strengthen your faith, at the right moment, God will reveal Himself so there is no doubt that He was in charge all along.