By: Lisa Lothian
Waiting is hard. I personally really don’t like it. I consider myself fairly efficient and time conscious so I hate to waste mine or other people’s time. But for some reason, God tells us that we need to wait. Imagine how Mary and Martha felt. Here was their beloved brother Lazarus, sick unto death. The three of them weren’t just acquaintances of Jesus. They were a part of his inner circle. He socialized with them frequently, in their home. John 11:5 says “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” He loved them. He cared about them. Mary herself experienced the love of Jesus through life-changing miracles from His own hand. She was delivered from evil spirits and a vile life. She knew that she could count on Jesus to come through in any and every situation. Yet, she had to wait. Surely, Jesus would not have his good friend and their beloved brother die!
As a nurse for many years, I have sat at the bedside of dying patients. More than once I was in the presence of families of faith who hoped that something miraculous would happen for their loved ones. They waited. They prayed. They couldn’t see what was going on in the background that was working something deeper, richer, and more miraculous than what they desired. Despite outcomes. Mary would have been completely indignant to know that Jesus, after being told that Lazarus was sick, decided to stay 2 whole days where he was instead of rushing to the home and bedside of his friends to perform the desired miracle. The days and hours probably felt like years as Mary and Martha cried, prayed, and hoped….nothing. He died. No arrival of Jesus. They had the funeral, the burial, the repast—no Jesus. Maybe they had stopped “waiting” altogether, simply thinking it was a done deal. He wasn’t even going to come by the house. A no-show. No deliverance. No answer to their prayers. A dead dream. Then Jesus has the audacity to show up!
There is a reason for waiting. The scriptures tell us why. James 1:3,4 tell us that waiting tries our faith and works patience, that we might be perfect, or mature. We can see how this was the case with Martha when Jesus finally arrived at their home 4 days after Lazarus died. She expressed faith in Jesus despite the fact he was already dead. She said in verse 22, that even now if Jesus asked anything of God, He would do it. Including a miracle. When Jesus went on and said that Lazarus would rise again, she still had faith in God to agree with him that Lazarus would, in fact, rise again in the resurrection on the last day. That is faith! It is sometimes the case that as we wait on God, and He doesn’t do what we want, feelings of resentment, unbelief, and anger step in. We must pray for that not to happen to us. Romans 5:3,4 tells us that it is necessary for us to learn that trials and tribulations work patience, and patience experience, and experience, hope.
I wonder if Martha had greeted Jesus with anger, frustration, lack of faith, and all of the things that our weak flesh manifests when expectations are unmet—would Jesus still have performed the miracle? Peter 1:6,7 says that we should rejoice when we are tempted and heavy with the cares of life. The trial of our faith is more precious than gold, and when we are tried we will be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. That is exactly what Martha experienced. Her faith met Jesus face to face with honor when He showed up at their home and He did the unimaginable. Lazarus was raised from the dead!
As we are waiting for our answers to prayer, God will do what is best for us in the long run. Ultimately, it may in fact be a resurrection. A resurrection of our faith, or whatever the broken situation is. We can be assured of one thing, no matter the outcomes, that God is working out unseen important details that we know not of. “Wait on the Lord and be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14). We will have to prayerfully learn to “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10). Get out of His way, and let Him do the unexpected. The miracle. God’s way.
Further reading: John 11, 1Peter 1:6,7, James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5, Psalm 46, Psalm 27, Romans 8:28