When We Want to Believe.. John 11
In John 11, Jesus arrives in Bethany four days after Lazarus has been buried. Upon hearing of Jesus’s arrival, Martha decides to go out to meet Jesus rather than wait for him at the house. Why? Maybe she needed some fresh air or maybe she had a few words she wanted to say to him without others hearing. We don’t know the why but we don’t know that her first words to Jesus were “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Martha wanted Jesus to know that she believes that Jesus could have healed Lazarus. She wants to believe that Jesus can still do something about the situation and says, “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Have you ever prayed for God to do something, and it was like He didn’t show up? You prayed and believed for a miracle, and it didn’t happen? Maybe you are like Martha and are subtlety asking God, “Why?” You believe God can do miracles but why didn’t He do this one? You are confused by His timing. You quote Romans 8:28 about God working for good for all who love Him but you can’t see it.
This past summer it didn’t make sense for friends of ours to be evacuated off of the field due to medical issues with the husband dying 4 months later. This past month it didn’t make sense for God not to answer with life to the prayers of our colleagues as they prayed for their child who had died in the night. I don’t have any answers to the why’s of this life, but my faith has been strengthened as I have watched both families’ trust in God grow and as they continue to walk in faith believing in God’s best. It has not been easy for them but just like Martha they know God can still work but not really how He will work.
Back to the story of Lazarus, Martha and Jesus continue their conversation. Jesus informs Martha that Lazarus will live again. Martha assumes Jesus means in the resurrection. Jesus corrects her reminding her that He is the resurrection and the life. With a declaration of faith in Jesus as the Christ, Martha hurries to get her sister, Mary. Mary’s greeting to Jesus is the same as Martha’s, “Lord if you would have been here, my brother would not have died. ” (11:32) Jesus is deeply moved and decides that now would be a great time to go to the tomb of Lazarus. Upon seeing the tomb, Jesus asks for the stone to be moved away. Martha, who minutes before had declared her faith in what Jesus could do, cautions against it. Jesus looks at her and reminds her of their conversation. The stone is rolled away and Lazarus is healed. It takes faith to move the stone away. What if nothing happens?
I would say I believe but often when I am asked to roll away the stone, I balk. I come up with excuses about why I can’t. God often asks us to take a step of faith. For Martha and those around her, it was moving away the stone. Jesus had the power to raise Lazarus and move the stone, but He decided not to. In my life, what stone is God asking me to move away so He can work? Why have a stone to move? I think it is so we are more aware of God working. For example, when our family was debating on whether God was calling us overseas, our stone moving was putting our house up for sale. We put the house up for sale and saw God move in all sorts of ways through the sale of the house, finding a rental to live in, and a job for me. Now God could have called us to put our house up for sale, and the house did not sell. In this case, He chose to work through selling the house.
My friends did not get their child or father back from the dead. God is choosing to work another way. In the meantime, I am blessed by seeing them move stones away daily as they take one step in front of the other choosing to look for God in each step.
Dear God, Thank you that you are the resurrection and the life. Thank you for loving us as we are with our doubts and fears. May we always be ready to move away the stone and be aware of you working in and around us. Be with our dear friends as they are still grieving the loss of their loved ones. Give them peace, hope and direction. Amen