Sometimes Jesus reveals Himself to us in places we have been many times before. That was true for me as I reread the story of Lazarus (John 11:1-44) this past month.
Here is what He showed me:
1. “When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him…Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.’” John 11:20-22
Even in her devastation, Martha knew that Jesus was still who He said He was. She trusted Him even in unspeakable pain. Her response was one of trust and Jesus was so pleased. His response was gracious and loving.
2. “Jesus told her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ ‘Yes,’ Martha said, ‘When everyone else rises, on resurrection day.'” John 11:23-24
Martha was not expecting Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead. She knew her brother was dead and that in the end she would see him again in heaven. This really showed me what Martha truly believed about, Jesus. Her thought wasn’t, “Jesus is good because He can bring back Lazarus.” It was, “Lazarus is gone, but even in that, I know Jesus is good. In this He will give me what I need.” She trusted that Jesus was good because of whom He was, not because of what He did.
3. “‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, he was moved with indignation and was deeply troubled.” John 11:32-33
Mary said the exact same thing that Martha did when she first saw Jesus, but her final response was different. She didn’t go on to say “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Instead she cried. She shared her disappointment, frustration, and pain with Jesus. Her response was one of vulnerable emotion. Jesus’ heart broke, not because she didn’t say Jesus I still trust you. It broke because someone He loved was in deep pain. He felt with her.
His response was still gracious and loving even though her response was different from Martha’s. This showed me that there is no wrong response when it comes to how I respond to pain in my relationship with Jesus. Every response can bring me back to the heart of His love.
There is so much freedom in knowing that I can be where I am in my pain, and God will still respond with love and grace.
I have often shamed myself for not responding as Martha did when sucky things happened to me. More times then not I have questioned God’s goodness when I have been in pain. My pain has quickly exposed what my heart truly believes. More often than not, what I believed was contrary to Jesus’ true character.
Not too long ago I came to realize that where my pain ran deep, my faith ran out. Not because it was not available to me, because I did not take Jesus to those places.
So like Mary, I began to share what I really felt.
I shared my brokenness,
and deep shame.
And I cried. I cried for what I lost, for my deferred dreams, my broken heart, for the things my heart still longed for, and the things my heart had to release.
And when it was all said and done, after I had rejected God because of how deeply I misunderstood Him, shamed myself for not responding as I believed I should, shared my raw feelings with Jesus, and cried until I couldn’t. I found myself back in His love, where I belong.
If Mary, Martha and Lazarus have taught me anything, it is Jesus is near to us all. All we have to do is acknowledge His presence and invite Him to be with us. Every response can bring us back to the heart of His love.
MEET THE AUTHOR