Doing the Possible as God Does the Impossible

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Do you remember the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11)? It is a very profound story in many ways. First, it is a sign of Jesus’ divine nature – only God can bring a dead man back to life. Second, it shows the compassion of Jesus – before He raised Lazarus, He mourned over him and the loss to his sisters (“Jesus wept”). But one really neat item is HOW Jesus performed the miracle!

Before Jesus raised Lazarus, he asked several men move the stone… Did you catch that? Jesus did not move the stone; the men did. It took several people to perform this miracle: the men who moved the stone AND Jesus who raised the dead man. The men did what was POSSIBLE and Jesus did the IMPOSSIBLE. But both were needed.

We face situations in life that seem hard or, sometimes, impossible. But what do we do in those situations? It is human nature to fall into four traps when we face the impossible:

1) We try to overcome it ourselves. Then when we get beaten down, we blame God for putting us in this situation.

2) We give up. We say, “What’s the use?” Or we try to escape or avoid the situation. Or we deny that the problem exists. Or we just shrivel up in a corner somewhere.

3) We don’t give God a chance. We face a hard situation and we totally leave God out of it. Or our prayers are half-hearted. It is a good thing that God’s grace surrounds us, even when we don’t ask for it! But when we ask for God to work on our behalf it helps us to realize that it is HE who is helping us when help comes. When we don’t ask, and God helps us out of the goodness of His grace, we often don’t recognize the hand of God in it. And sometimes, “we have not, because we ask not.”

4) We ask God to help, but we don’t do what is possible for us. We ask God for healing, but we don’t go to the doctor. We ask God for provision, but we don’t give or tithe. We ask God to change our difficult relational situation, but we don’t humble ourselves to look in the mirror and to change the person we can change.

We might not be able to raise the dead, but there are stones we can move out of the way. We are not able to feed the 5,000, but we can offer our lunch to Jesus. We are not be able to heal ourselves from leprosy, but we can wash in the lake seven times (like Namaan did, under Elijah’s instructions in 1 Kings). All these Biblical miracles involved both God and human beings working together.

The take-away from John 11 is to:

1) Ask God to do the impossible, and

2) Make ourselves available to the possible thing He is calling us to do.

Being in the flow of Jesus’ life and love means to be in tandem with God through prayer and action. Both are expressions of faith…

4 thoughts on “Doing the Possible as God Does the Impossible

  1. I found myself at an impasse in a relationship. Both of us could be judged as being right. I tried everything I knew to do to communicate, to understand, to solve the problem but the impasse remained. Hopelessness became a frequent visitor and depression started spending the night. I finally told a trusted friend and asked for advice fully expecting her to expose a wonderful solution from her mature Christ-like life which would fix the other person and resolve the matter. In her Christ-like wisdom she bent her head and shoulders down as if the weight of the matter had suddenly become quite heavy to bear. She looked up shaking her head back and forth telling me she didn’t know how to fix it. She looked up to heaven and instantly prayed out of despair, “Lord, Jesus, we don’t know what to do other than to ask you to please change Lynne’s heart.” I was surprised at first because she didn’t say I was wrong, but agreed that the problem could only be fixed if one of us had a changed heart. And, why shouldn’t it start with me? God listened to our prayer. Within hours the impasse was no more. Later, God lead me to read Joshua, chapter 1, and I understood what God had done. I had done all the things you talked about what not to do. But when I did my part by submitting to God’s authority, God did the impossible. Thank you so much for this affirmation, Doug. It helps remind me in a very real way that nothing is impossible for God.

    • Wow, Lynne! That is such a powerful testimony. Praise God for the process He guided you through and for your godly friend who wisely did not try to fix you, but help you to surrender to God and to surrender to love. I believe the greatest impossibilities God does is how He can move human hearts while totally honoring (submitting to – can you imagine God submitting??) our free will. Sometimes our “possible” is the one thing God cannot do (or chooses not to do; depending on our theological orientation). Sometimes, we have to do the possible in order for God to do the impossible. Thanks so much for sharing!

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