The Lazarus Syndrome

Revival against all odds

Delbert W. Baker
The Lazarus Syndrome

Many of us face impediments that at times appear insurmountable. What if you discovered a way to view any challenge as manageable and resolvable? Inspired by the Lazarus syndrome, a rare phenomenon of spontaneous restoration, let’s explore this biblical-medical concept that can help resolve the most daunting problems.


The Lazarus syndrome, also known as autoresuscitation after failed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), is a phenomenon during which a person returns to life after CPR has been unsuccessful. Named after the biblical figure raised from the dead by Jesus (John 11), it embodies the idea of unexpected revival and renewal against all odds. Just as Lazarus emerged from the tomb through Jesus’ words, we, too, can experience His transformational power.

At the heart of the Lazarus syndrome lie the powerful principles of resilience and cooperation. These, combined with faith and bold action, can make the impossible possible, notwithstanding discouraging surroundings. Lazarus, through the power of God, experienced resurrection over death itself. Interestingly, this miraculous breakthrough happened in concert with the cooperation of those around him. Similarly, we must persevere through trials and tribulations, trusting in God’s providence to bring about unexpected breakthroughs.


Central to the Lazarus syndrome is the acknowledgment of divine intervention in impossible human situations. Just as Jesus spoke the words “Lazarus, come forth,” we, too, can call upon God to intervene in our most challenging situations. Through prayer, faith, obedience, a reliance on God’s timing, often partnering with others, we open ourselves to miraculous transformation, even when all seems lost.

In the face of despair, the Lazarus syndrome teaches us to cultivate resilience, hope, and action. Despite the finality of death, Lazarus’ resurrection serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that no situation, spiritual or secular, is beyond redemption. 

In practical terms, the Lazarus syndrome can be applied as a five-step approach:

Intentional Perseverance: Never give up hope. Search for answers, even in the darkest of times.

Divine-Human Cooperation: Seek and depend on God’s guidance. Intervene via prayer and action, often working in concert with others.

Expectant Faith: Trust in God’s timing and providence to bring about transformation.

Determined Resilience: Bounce back from every challenge with renewed determination, stronger as a result of the experience. 

Stubborn Hope: By the power of God, maintain a hopeful outlook, always believing, searching for possibilities and transformation.

The Lazarus syndrome provides a powerful framework for unraveling and resolving difficult situations. Just as Lazarus emerged from the tomb to new life, we, too, can experience transformation and renewal, trusting in God to bring about miracles.

Delbert W. Baker

Delbert W. Baker, Ph.D., is director of Research and Development for the Regional Conference Retirement Plan/Office of Regional Conference Ministries in Huntsville, Alabama.