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Text Sermons : J.R. Miller : September 15. Unbelieving "Ifs"

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"Lord, if you had been here — my brother would not have not died!" John 11:21

Would Lazarus not have died — if Jesus had been there? Do we not read that because Jesus loved the Bethany family, and because He learned of the sickness of Lazarus — therefore He remained two days after the messenger came? Did He not also say the He was glad that He had not been there before Lazarus died?

One thing at least we know: it was better as it was — better that Lazarus should not be cured — but should die, and then that Christ's power should be shown in his resurrection. It was therefore an unbelieving "if", and a groundless one, which fell from Martha's lips.

But we are all apt to let similar "ifs" drop from our lips when trouble comes to us. If we had only tried another physician, or taken the matter in hand a little sooner — our friend had not died. We feel sometimes that sorrow is an evidence that God did not hear our prayers. If He had only heard our cry — the trial would have been averted. Yet we have but to read this story through to the end, to see that Christ's way was the better way here — as it always is the better way.

We sadly watched the close of all,
Life balanced on a breath;
We saw upon his features fall
The awful shade of death.
All dark and desolate we were;
And murmuring nature cried —
'Oh, surely, Lord, had you been here,
Our brother would not have not died!

But when its glance the mourner cast
On all that grace had done,
And thought of life's long warfare passed,
And endless victory won,
The faith prevailing wiped the tears,
And looking upward cried —
'Oh, surely, Lord, you have been here
Our brother has not died!

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