The countdown to 2017 is on with just a few hours left. 2016 has been a turbulent year not necessarily for me but people around me. People have lost their loved ones under strange circumstances and are still recuperating from their loss. Some also have experienced some downfalls and some haven’t had their prayers or desires granted yet. As I try to reflect on the ills of 2016, and how the broken hearted can get their hopes rekindled again, the story about Lazarus comes to mind (John 11:1-44). To those who don’t know about Lazarus let me just paraphrase it succinctly for you.
Lazarus is the brother of Mary ( the one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) and Martha. Lazarus fell sick so the sisters sent word to Jesus “Lord, the one you love is sick.”4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Even though Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, He stayed where he was two more days after he was told Lazarus had taken ill. On his arrival, Jesus realized Lazarus had already been buried in the tomb for four days. Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” True to Jesus’ words Lazarus rose again.
This is a story that fascinates many and shows the power of God at work. This is because it is physically impossible to raise someone from the dead. I also believe anything Jesus did on earth was the manifestation of what God stood for. There’s more to this story than what I paraphrased and I’m sure by the time you’re done reading, you’d understand the point I’m trying to make. I’ve always wanted to know what happens to a dead body even though I know it decays, I’ve been curious to find out how it transpires and my curiosity paid off recently.
According to Dr. Arpad A. Vass, a Senior Staff Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee in Forensic Anthropology, human decomposition begins around four minutes after a person dies and follows four stages: autolysis, bloat, active decay, and skeletonization.
Stage One: Autolysis
The first stage of human decomposition is called autolysis, or self-digestion, and begins immediately after death. As soon as blood circulation and respiration stops, the body has no way of getting oxygen or removing wastes. Excess carbon dioxide causes an acidic environment, causing membranes in cells to rupture. The membranes release enzymes that begin eating the cells from the inside out.
Rigor mortis causes muscle stiffening. Small blisters filled with nutrient-rich fluid begin appearing on internal organs and the skin’s surface. The body will appear to have a sheen due to ruptured blisters, and the skin’s top layer will begin to loosen.
Stage Two: Bloat
Between 3-5 days after death — the body starts to bloat and blood-containing foam leaks from the mouth and nose.Leaked enzymes from the first stage begin producing many gases. The sulfur-containing compounds that the bacteria release also cause skin discoloration. Due to the gases, the human body can double in size. In addition, insect activity can be present.
The microorganisms and bacteria produce extremely unpleasant odors called putrefaction. These odors often alert others that a person has died, and can linger long after a body has been removed.
According to the Biblical account. Lazarus had already been buried in the tomb for four days thus his body decomposition might have reached stage 2 before Jesus arrived on the scene.
Just like Mary who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair, some of you served God diligently and gave him the best part of your lives but troubles still crippled you in 2015. You thought based on how diligently you served God, you’d be immune to troubles but it wasn’t meant to be. On the last day of 2015, your pastors gave you hope just like Jesus and assured you that your situation is not a dead end but rather it was meant for God to be glorified through it. You entered 2016 with high hopes based on this assurance but your story has changed for the worse. Just like the Jews, some have asked “could not he who cured the blind save you from your dying situation?
Just like Mary and Martha, you’ve accepted your deplorable situation as a dead end and buried it at this point in time and resorted to mourning. Your bitterness is so grave that even when Jesus asks to roll away the stones you’ve rolled on your situation as a symbol of a dead end; you’d say “Lord, my situation has deteriorated for so long and by this time it stinks”.
When you read John 11:1-44, carefully, you’d realize after they had taken away the stone from Lazarus’ cave and Jesus commanded him to come forth and ask that Lazarus clothes be taken off, it was done without hesitation or grumbling. This is because Lazarus’ body didn’t stink after he came out considering the phases of decay I gave in my introduction. This shows that “Delay doesn’t mean decay in the eyes of God”.
Your situation might be deplorable like Lazarus’ dead body. Human as you are, it is ok to feel sad, dejected and sometimes lose hope in the midst of your circumstances. But don’t you dare roll a stone over your situation and think it is beyond repairs. It takes just the voice of the one who is the resurrection and the life to change your story. He might have postponed the time he should’ve come to your rescue as in the case of Lazarus but he didn’t forget him. When the one who is an embodiment of resurrection and life arrives on the scene, he is no respecter of time, human perception or gravity of situations. He’d speak life into your stinking situation and you’d come out without blemish and odor.
ALL THE BEST IN 2017!!!!!!
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