Delays and disappointments are common to man. However, if you are a friend of God delays and disappointments are often gifts from His hand to take us deeper and allow us to be someone through whom He can display His glory.
In John chapter eleven we see this lived out in such an extraordinary way we may miss the implications for our own lives. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were friends of Jesus. They had a history and were intimate friends. When their brother, Lazarus, became ill they sent word to Jesus. They knew Jesus healed, they had seen Him and they heard the testimonies. Jesus received that word and this was His reaction,
“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was.” John 11:5-6
Notice that love motivated His delay. Love allowed the disappointment. Love allowed the death of Lazarus, and the devastation to ultimately take them deeper and display His glory.
Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him; but Mary still sat in the house. John 11:20
Martha called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here, and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she arose quickly, and was coming to Him. John 11:28-29 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:31-33
For those of you who know Mary and Martha’s history it may surprise you that it was Martha and not Mary that instinctively and quickly made her way to Jesus. People may act in unexpected and uncharacteristic ways in crisis. When thrown in prison, the bold and fiery John the Baptist questioned the validity of the One he had previously proclaimed. Disappointment or disillusionment in the way Jesus allows things to unfold can shake us to our core.
We read that the Jews who were with Mary were comforting her. The word comfort literally means to “relate near.” On some basic level just the presence of people who care about us can provide solace, but eventually they go home and we are alone. We don’t know why Mary didn’t run to meet Jesus but I suspect she was deeply disappointed that Jesus didn’t respond in the way she thought he would. We don’t know why she didn’t go until Martha told her that He was calling for her. One of the simplest things we can do for the hurting is to remind them that Jesus is waiting for them to come to Him with their grief and questions.
When Mary got up her comforters presumed she was going to the tomb to weep because that is a very human response. We visit the grave, we relive the events, we cry, we leave tributes, but I personally have never found consolation in those acts. But I have, with countless others, reached the place where Jesus is. It was there at His feet that Mary and Martha released their hurt and disappointment. It was there at His feet they received a deeper revelation of who He was. He took them beyond what they already knew. “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” Mary and Martha knew Him as healer, but He would take them deeper. He would show them that He is the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Jesus shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Jesus shall never die. John 11:25-26 What a revelation, what a promise, and what an amazing Savior.
We all have our own ways of coping and making it through tough times. Where do you go when you are wounded, disappointed, or grieving? Mary and Martha went to the place where Jesus was. We too need to get there by faith. Stand on His promise that He is near to the brokenhearted and to those who are crushed in spirit. He will not fail you. You may be disappointed because you know what He could have done and didn’t. But you don’t know what He can do if you trust Him. When He doesn’t meet our expectations He wants to exceed them. He will work it for our good and His glory. He wants to take us deeper still. Get to the place where He is. He is calling for you.
MY PRAYER: Lord, whatever you allow in our lives is meant to draw us deeper into our understanding and experience of you. Help us to run to you for the healing and comfort that we need. Only you can bring life in the midst of brokenness, hurt, and confusion. In Your beautiful name, amen.