Recently we sang a song at church where we declared that God is a “way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper and a light in the darkness.” The song continued, “Even when I don’t see it, You’re working. Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working. You never stop, You never stop working.” Voices sang louder…and louder…and louder. The hope and trust in God’s goodness was almost palpable. The pastor grabbed the microphone and said, “If anyone is struggling with something and need to know God is working even though you can’t see evidence, come forward so we can pray for you”… and close to a hundred people practically ran to the front and kneeled. We’ve all been there. We know the feeling. And I’m pretty sure that is the same feeling Mary and Martha experienced.
Reading John 11:1-16, we discover that their brother was very, very sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” The narrative explains, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”
These were dear friends. Jesus spent a lot of time in their homes. He would probably seek their company when He wanted to relax and “kick back.” The siblings knew Jesus so intimately that when Lazarus was on his deathbed, all the sisters said in the message to Jesus was, “the one you love is sick.” They didn’t need to use Lazarus’ name because their description would suffice. But Jesus didn’t come immediately, as I imagine they expected. Instead, He waited two days.
We all know loss. Losing a loved one to death is surely the most painful. But our list can be extensive. Most of us have grieved the loss of dreams and hopes. It is painful when we must let go of “the way it could have been.” Our list can include the loss of a job and with that, the loss of financial security. Or the loss of a marriage. Or the loss of what we thought was a genuine friendship. These things hurt.
I wish I could say that time makes it better but I am not so sure that really happens. Maybe over time you can begin to think about your loss less but, when you least expect it, something happens and you remember the loss, betrayal or void. Zing…pain stabs your soul all over again.
It is this common understanding of grief where we effectively engage with the story of Lazarus’ death and the ensuing grief and disappointment of his sisters. Grief because of their loss and disappointment because Jesus didn’t arrive in time. He didn’t show up when they needed Him.
Surely I am not the only one who will confess to a dark time, when consumed by pain, I cried out, “God, where are you? I thought You loved me. Why won’t you help me?”
Sometimes life is dismal and dark and in those times, we may find ourselves questioning God’s goodness. From this viewpoint, sympathetically stepping into Martha and Mary’s pain, we can discover the same things they learned. We can see what God wants us to grasp about His character.
Jesus did come. He always planned on going. But He waited. And when the time was perfect, He entered the heart breaking scene. He’s really never late. And He would do the impossible. He would change mourning into dancing. But best of all, He would reveal more of His character.
He would reveal Himself as the Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper and Light in the darkness. And much, much more.
Question to ponder:
Have I learned to trust God’s timing?