“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.’” – John 11:41
Jesus had a friend named Lazarus who died of an illness. By the time Jesus arrived at the home of Lazarus’s grieving sisters, Mary and Martha, Lazarus had been dead for four days, and his body was sealed in a tomb with a large, heavy stone.
Jesus did something that puzzled and then astonished the mourners. He asked for the stone to be rolled away, and He thanked His Father for hearing His prayer. Then Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out, and he did—wrapped in grave clothes, but alive as the day he was born!
Jesus gave thanks before God raised Lazarus from the dead, but sometimes you and I get things turned around. We pray for those who are in prison, spiritually dead, to turn away from hard-heartedness and find new life, but we only give thanks after we have seen them change. We pray for families who grieve the loss of their loved ones to a prison sentence, but we only give thanks after they are healed and restored. We beseech God for the passage of restorative criminal-justice reform, but we only give thanks after new laws are enacted.
Jesus’ thanksgiving wasn’t just a token of gratitude to God; it prepared the way for miracles that would follow. This holiday season, I challenge us all to follow Jesus’ model. Let’s give thanks before we see the miracles of resurrection, transformation, and healing. Let’s praise Him for hearing us all the time, and then watch with expectation for Him to bring the spiritually dead to new life through His Son.
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