11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.
This, I have to say, is one of my favorite verses in this section simply because I find it so funny. Jesus tells the disciples that Lazarus is asleep, and Jesus is about to go and wake him up. The problem is that Jesus is using a figure of speech, and the disciples don’t get it. Jesus was using a euphemism for saying that Lazarus is dead, but the disciples just don’t follow.
One of the factors as to why the disciples may not have followed Jesus’ meaning could be that they simply do not see how this is possibly God’s plan. How could Jesus be going to Lazarus if he’s dead? That makes no sense. So, it must be that Jesus is talking about sleep. But it’s dangerous to go to Judea, and Lazarus is clearly resting. We shouldn’t go.
People often do not understand what is going on when God works mysteriously through hardship and tragedy. And when you go through a tough time in life, do not find it at all surprising when your friends and loved ones say things to you that show you that they have no actual clue as to the reality of the situation. They may say something that seems to minimize your sorrow. They may say something that shows that they really do not grasp that God is in control. My counsel to you is this: Expect it. Know that people around you will not necessarily understand or trust what God is doing. But you will know. You may not know all the reasons why, but you can know that God is in control, that he will be glorified, and that his glory is your source of joy.