In chapter two of Get Thin Stay Thin, the authors use the image of Lazarus’ death and resurrection to challenge the reader to understand what God may be up to in our own lives.
The authors refer to John 11:1-44 to do this and I include the link here so you can refer to the passage if you like. (It should open in a new window.)
Some observations about the passage:
- Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. (vs. 3)
- As special as this family was to Jesus, he delayed in going to help. (vs. 6)
Jesus had a reason for allowing the delay…He knew things were going to get worse before they could get better. (Reminds me of the blog entry I posted yesterday.) But once he showed up on the scene, there would be no way of denying that the power of God had arrived in full force!
- Lazarus’ sisters were clearly baffled that the Lord had delayed long enough that their brother had passed away. (vs. 21, 32)
It would be all too easy to accuse the Lord of not caring, of not loving enough…
–> Do you feel this way at all? Do you feel like you have begged God for help and yet help seems delayed? Do you struggle with wondering if the Lord really loves you as he claims? In this account, we see that Jesus delayed intentionally, but for a higher purpose than could be fathomed. Perhaps this is the case with us as well. His delay is not a “No,” but is, perhaps a “Yes, when the time is right and you will see wonders you never imagined…”
- Now that Jesus has arrived, even though Lazarus is dead, Jesus calls Lazarus out of the grave. (vs. 43, 44)
Jesus called Lazarus from death to life, as he has done for each of us through his own death and resurrection. But now we may feel abandoned and entombed in the hopelessness of our disordered eating…Jesus is there for us and does not hesitate, “Take away the stone.” (GTST, p. 40)
- Jesus commissioned friends and family to take off Lazarus’ graveclothes (vs. 44)
Rather than to submit ourselves to the brutal task master of “rigid restraint” as seen in yet another diet that will only serve to condemn us, the Lord calls us forth out of our graves of captivity. Resurrection brings LIFE. All other options bring death. But the tricky thing about resurrection as depicted in this passage is…there are graveclothes that need unwrapping.
The authors of Get Thin Stay Thin want us to see that much of what served us while in the grave acts as a hindrance now. Layer by layer, these graveclothes must come off. We must allow those whom God has called to help us with this unwrapping, just as Lazarus could not unwrap himself.
We are alive in Christ; the saving work has been accomplished. But our grave clothes may still be in place, and if so, they can be removed only when we believe and have faith that we can be restored, when we risk stepping out of our tombs, and when we let our brothers and sisters participate in the unwrapping process. Jesus chooses to give certain people with whom we have relationships the privilege of participating in our restoration. (GTST, pgs. 40-41)
This is that call to trust and to allow those whom God has raised up for this purpose to help us to step out of darkness into the light of authenticity and intimacy with God and others. This can be terrifying. For some of us, we are quite content (thank you very much) to stay shrouded in the graveclothes that have been with us for so long. They hide us, give us a sense of security.
But we will never experience the freedom God has planned for us unless we are willing to believe that coming out of those graveclothes is worth it and allow it to happen.
When we choose to allow the unwrapping of our graveclothes, we find a God who infininitely loves us and desires that we grow up into all the fullness of the stature of Christ. But as we open the door to this light, we can expect disruption for a time. (GTST p. 45)
Oh, how true this is! And this brings me back to yesterday’s blog entry…whatever he is doing in my life, it feels like chaos, but he is up to something heavenly.
–> Do you feel even a shred of hope that you can do this, too? Will you believe Him that, while there seems to be chaos going on in your life, or what the Hallidays call “disruption” (that sure understates it! LOL!) that He is at work doing a new thing…a BIG thing…a HEAVENLY, divine thing in you?
Yes, there IS disruption, but I can’t help but acknowledge that some very serious strongholds have crashed down. Things I was in captivity to no longer have a hold on me. Forgive me for mixing all my metaphors, but I must say…While other things do seem to have me in their clutches, I know it is a matter of time before another layer of the graveclothes is tenderly, compassionately unwrapped and we continue to move forward. It is slow going, but I sense what is ahead will be wildly worth it.
Intimacy with our living God allows us to unwrap our graveclothes, release our defenses, discard our counterfeit behavior and come back to life. (GTST, p. 49)
I am coming back to life.
Thanks, Heidi. The Lazurus story and your post reminded me of my ongoing struggle. As I continue to suffer gastrointestinal problems, despite many accurate diagnoses and successful treatments, I also “feel like (I) have begged God for help and yet help seems delayed” and “struggle with wondering if the Lord really loves (me) as he claims”. Each diagnosis gave me more clues about the source of my symptoms, and helped me change my diet to avoid food allergy reactions. Each treatment seemed to resolve my symptoms FOR AWHILE. Then, slowly and inevitably the symptoms returned. Although I initially felt optimistic about recovery from painful symptoms, I now don’t want to hope, so that I don’t feel discouraged when my symptoms return. Almost every page of TW workbooks and prayer journals over the past 10 years has included pleas for recovery and/or insights about what I can do to heal. I’m beginning to wonder if God really wants me to recover from these painful symptoms.
Oh, Sue. I am so sorry it feels that He has delayed. Somehow, this story is for you in a deeper way than I can even relate to or imagine. He intends not for this to end in death to you, though it may feel like it. Death to self, perhaps…death to expectations, perhaps. But He intends to meet you there IN the tomb. He intends to infuse your life with resurrection power…and bring you forth from the grave to new *abundant* life in him. I am so sorry that it feels so painful–physically, emotionally, spiritually. He isn’t a tame lion, but he IS good. Pour it out to him, Sue. Just let loose with your complaints to the Lord…even if it is about him. He can take it…he receives your honest emotion. (praying for you right now…)
Thanks, Heidi. I swing between feeling hopelessly resigned to enduring these symptoms or ashamed that I’m not trusting God to heal me. I know I can’t just sit around and abuse my body, waiting for God to heal me. I do need to avoid food allergens, take supplements and probiotics as part of treatment regimens. However I’ve been optimistic about healing so many times and then felt totally discouraged when that didn’t happen, that I’m almost afraid to hope anymore. I’ve developed a ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ attitude, rather than believing what I cannot see. Meanwhile I feel guilty about not trusting God to heal me, doubting His intentions and being impatient with His timing. I have slowly improved over the past 5 years after new diagnoses and new treatments, but I’m still not completely well or ‘normal’. Maybe that’s the ‘expectation’ I need to change. Maybe my normal is ‘abnormal’. I don’t know anymore …
Dear Sue, I am reading a book by John Eldredge that is profoundly affecting my prayer life. This morning I read something in there about how John asked the Lord if he should pray for healing for his golden retriever who had advanced cancer. He actually felt God’s leading NOT to pray for healing…that he and his family was being spared the pain of hoping for that when it wasn’t God’s plan to heal. It occurred to me that it can be an amazing relief to *ask* God if praying x or y is his will to pray…I don’t know if it works in real life, not having done it when it comes to anything in particular like your situation…but you could ask the Lord if he wants you to pray for healing…and prayerfully wait on his answer about that. If he says, no…maybe you could ask him what he *does* want you to pray…If we pray according to his will, he hears us…and whatever we ask for in his will and in his name is ours…so it stands to reason he must want us to know what those things we are to pray for are. Lord, I ask for Sue to have clarity about how and what to pray for in her life regarding all the health challenges she faces. She is in pain, Lord…and I ask that you will make it really clear to her how she can pray so that she might experience the blessing of being in your will and experiencing answered prayer…I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Thanks, Heidi. After I posted my last depressing comment, I realized I HAVE slowly healed over the past 4-1/2 years. I have received many answers to my prayers for healing, through diagnoses for each food allergy, diagnoses and treatments for continuing gut symptoms. My current discomfort is nowhere near what I experienced before I was first diagnosed with celiac disease and then each of 6 other food allergies. Maybe I really need to pray for patience. Before I was dx’d with CD, I endure over 10 years which doctors misdiagnosed as gastritis or IBS. Their solutioin for gastritis impaired my digestion (by depleting my stomach acid). They told me to ‘learn to live with IBS, because everybody gets it’. So I really have come a long ways since then. However, I more recently have grown weary and disillusioned by continual symptoms. I want this to end yesterday. LOL The good news is that my digestive challenges have forced me to choose foods that nourish my body, as well as really eat mindfully so that I don’t cause more discomfort by overeating or eating when I’m not really hungry. I also have none of the usual diseases that most women get in their early 60s. If I could replace celiac disease with any other disease, I would still choose celiac disease and all the complications I suffered during years of misdiagnoses. I KNOW CD and how to cope with the symptoms. I would prefer to be free of symptoms, but I do know how to cope with many of my symptoms.I suspect I need to pray for clarity about the lessons my gastro symptoms have taught me or can teach me over time. I also think my current ‘pain’ is more emotional disillusionment than extreme physical pain. Thanks again for posting the Lazarus story and participating in this comment conversation with me, as I developed a different perspective about my situation.