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Youth Sermon: Where Is God When You Don’t Get What You Want?

Imagine taking an extra two days after hearing they’re very sick to respond!

Would they feel like you loved them? Probably not. Yet for some reason, this is exactly how Jesus responds. He stays put and just keeps ministering before telling the disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” It seems confusing. But actually, Jesus has already shared divine insight into what’s  happening. In verse 4 he says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

God knows what he’s doing. It may not appear that way to the disciples or to the sisters in Bethany tending to their dying brother. But we all must embrace this. God knows what he’s doing even when we don’t understand it. He is working in and through the situations in our lives. Our challenge is to remain faithful and steadfast even when we don’t get what we want. Even when our prayers go unanswered.

Youth Sermon: The Sisters Respond

Now let’s look at how Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, respond to Jesus’ delay.

John 11:17-22

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Mary eventually comes to meet Jesus as well. She says the exact thing her sister Martha did. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Martha and Mary both feel their brother wouldn’t have died if Jesus had “shown up.” They wanted and expected Jesus to answer their prayers in the way they wanted. They’re obviously sad that Jesus didn’t come in time to save their brother.

Have you ever felt sad or frustrated with God? Maybe you’ve said that same thing at some point. “Lord, if you had been here…” But Jesus was operating on a different, divine timeline. He had an ultimate purpose and plan for showing up when and how he did.

We must learn to trust that God knows what he’s doing. Jesus knew from the beginning that Lazarus’ sickness and eventual death would glorify God. In fact, Lazarus’ resurrection brought so much attention, and so many people decided to follow Jesus, that religious leaders began actively planning to kill Jesus.

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were part of a greater story that God the Father was writing. And so are you!

Youth Ministry Sermon: Conclusion

Just before Jesus calls for the four-day dead Lazarus to come out of the tomb, he prays. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe.” (John 11:42-44)

At the beginning of this youth ministry sermon, I asked a question. Is God still good if he doesn’t give you what you want? Is it possible you aren’t getting what you want because God has something bigger planned? If he’s two days or two years late in answering your prayer, is God still worthy of your praise? Maybe what he’s doing is for the benefit and belief of others. Could you be okay with that?

Even Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…” He asked God to spare him from the suffering and pain of the cross. Does anyone know how that verse ends? “…yet not my will, but yours be done.” If Jesus had to trust God’s will and the plan, then you’re in good company.

Youth Sermon: Prepare to View the Film

As we get ready to see the movie, think about some of the questions we wrestled with. The film’s main characters struggle with the same things. In fact, the song this movie title references has a line that goes, “Even when I don’t see, I still believe.”

If you’re having trouble seeing, understanding, or believing in God’s plan and answers for you, know you’re not alone. Mary, Martha, Jeremy Camp, Lazarus, and even Jesus all struggled too.