Sufferings of Lazarus
Temptations of Lazarus*
Much can be learned by listening to what is not said. We know little of the character of this Lazarus, except this one thing: when he died, he was found to be in paradise with Abraham, the father of the Jews. It is a signal honor. From this we may conclude that Lazarus was indeed a righteous man. We may therefore consider the sins which would be common in his case, and that he overcame them.
· Envy. Imagine yourself just out of reach of luxury, living in poor health and poverty. The man could not move; he had to be laid at the rich man's door—and see all the wealthy guests going in and out of the lavish parties. As he starved, how he must have been tempted to have the bitter heart. "Why should he have so much when I have nothing?" But that is a sin; for it tells God he was mistaken in giving you so little of what you value so much more than He does.
· Blasphemy. Most of us don't want to know why bad things happen. We want to know why they happen to us. When we can't see a reason for our suffering, the temptation is to blame God for it. This too is sin, for it says that the holy and righteous God brought evil upon you for no reason but his enjoyment.
In this suffering we can imagine that Lazarus built up certain strengths. Like the blind man whose hearing becomes particularly acute, his spiritual senses became strengthened by his ordeal.
· Slander. He would certainly know how to deal with this. Why? Because of all the "righteous" people who would walk by knowing that he must have done something terribly evil to have deserved such punishment. They'd probably quote the book of Job to him, too.
· Consolation. Through all his troubles, he would be led to seek the consolation of the one who would never fail him. The very difficulties that others would see coming from God would drive him towards God. He who goes towards God is indeed headed in the right direction.
Suffering produces character, your mother told you. She was probably referring to your vegetables, but the point remains. Life is but a stage, we the actors; but sometimes we do not know the parts we are really playing. One of these two was made a rich man for eternity.