Over 2 thousand years ago two sisters found themselves in a time of mourning. Their brother was very sick. Being at the end of their rope they did the last thing they could do, sent a message to Jesus.
” Master, the one you love so very much is sick.” (John 11:3 MSG)
Four days later and a final breath from their brother, they met Jesus face to face. Here you find Mary and Martha with the same question but different depths of pain.
You can find their story in John 11. I encourage you to read it. I was recently brought to this story in a time that I felt like Mary and Martha. Almost a year ago I realized that some things in my heart were changing. The problem with this heart change was that it involved another person. After several conversations with God and many conversations with my mentors I realized that if I wanted to keep my motives in my heart pure I had to have a conversation with this friend. Things went well. I walked out with zero answers, that I was hoping for, but with a heart full of peace and trust that God was going to do some amazing things in both of our lives. I remember people close to me asking if I was okay with things just hanging in the air. And truth is I was.
As the next few months went by hopes faded and the things that could have been we’re no longer a possibility.
When Martha finally met up with Jesus she said to him, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” (John 11:21, 22 MSG) Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.” (John 11:24 MSG) She was sad. No doubt about it. More than her sadness though, Martha was trying struggling in her faith with Jesus. She didn’t understand why He would wait to come heal someone He claimed to love so dearly. She had never seen someone come back to life. She understood that her brother would be with Jesus in eternity but the thought of him being with them now, that was simply not in her list of possibilities.
When I found that my heart didn’t line up with my friend’s, I met God with the same things Martha did. For weeks I asked Him why certain things happened. I asked Him why it felt like He led me through this. I didn’t understand what good could come out of this situation. I didn’t understand why I had such a peace. Why would God lead me with a heart full of hopes to an alter where that same heart would end up broken before Him? Maybe I just don’t hear God. Or maybe my motives were in the w r o n g place. Maybe I am simply not good enough. Or maybe He has something different for me. Something better than what I thought was the absolute best.
My assumptions seemed to be silenced in Martha’s story. Jesus simply tells her that everyone who believes in Him will not die. But then He asks her, “do you believe this?” After reading this I was overwhelmed with questions. This time they came from the One that was with me through this whole journey. I could easily hear God asking me, “Do you trust me with your future? Do you believe I have the best for you? Have I ever disappointed you? Will you keep trusting me? Do you believe me?” He reminded me of the fact that I am His daughter and He will fulfill His promises to me. Just like He had told me through my dream a few months prior. I had a choice just like Martha. I had to choose to believe Him regardless of how I felt.
Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:29-32 MSG)
Mary met Jesus with the same words hanging from her mouth but a different pain in the depth of her heart. She simply missed her brother. She was angry that Jesus took his time to come and see them. She was sad that her brother died. She was confused, why would Jesus allow the one He loved to die? Why would He lead them through this? Jesus’ response blows my mind. He didn’t meet her anger with more anger. He didn’t rebuke her for being over emotional. He didn’t tell her to get over it. He wept. Jesus did what He does best. He got on Mary’s level and wept with her. Then He acted.
I found such freedom in this. Jesus mourns with those who mourn. That was freeing for me. I was allowed to be sad. I was allowed to have questions. Jesus wasn’t scared of any of that.
He embraced it.
As you continue to read the book of John you notice two things. The first one is that Jesus brought Lazarus (Martha and Mary’s brother) back to life. They were there and their belief that day changed. The other thing that you notice is that later in The book of John when Jesus is resurrected from death, Mary is the first one that visits the tomb and finds that it is empty. Remembering the things Jesus did in her own life, she knew exactly what was going on, she had seen a tomb much like this one before.
She got to lead the world in a belief that was birthed in a time of mourning. A belief that she saw first hand. She knew that Jesus had risen and she had the h o n o r of telling the people closest to Him.
I tell this long story to simply say that I don’t know why we have to have things happen in our lives that hurt us. I don’t like the days when my heart is literally in pieces. I hate the nights that I don’t remember falling asleep because I cried. all. night. I despise the mornings where I remember the hurt of the day before. I cringe when I think about questioning God. But I know that in all of this, He is with me. I know that in everything that happens to you He is w i t h you. And you get to choose to believe in what He is preparing you for.
Truth is there is something that He needs you to believe because you will need to lead those around you in belief.
The will of God is always a bigger thing than we bargain for, but we must believe that whatever it involves, it is good, acceptable and perfect.
– Jim Elliot