“This illness…is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 (ESV)
“Take my struggles and use them for your glory. But whatever you do, please don’t leave me the same.” Joanna Weaver
- Take some time to read through John 11, John 12:1-8, and Luke 10:38-42. Ask the Lord what He would like for you to learn from Him today as you
look at the lives of Mary and Martha.
Humbly Trust In Jesus
I have learned a lot from Mary and Martha over the years. Observing their brief interactions with Jesus can teach us a lot about their relationships with Him. You may know them best from Luke 10:38-42, where we see them at a dinner where Jesus is the guest of honor. In this glimpse of them, we learn from Jesus that Mary had chosen the most important thing—Jesus Himself—and that Martha was anxious about many things. Today, we will focus on John 11 as they grieved for their brother, Lazarus, who had recently died. What lesson can we learn as we observe them in their grief?
Verse five in John 11 says, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Interestingly, in the next verse, it says, “because He loved them, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was” (John 11:6 ESV). If Jesus loved them, why didn’t He go to them right away?
Do you ever feel that if Jesus loved you, He would answer your prayers right away and never leave you or a loved one waiting in a place of sadness or sickness or even close to death? That seems to go against how we view love from God, and yet it very clearly states that because He loved them, He waited. Jesus also said in verse four that, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Can you look back on a time in your life when you felt like God was taking too long to answer a prayer, but then when it was answered, you could see how the time spent waiting for that answer gave God all of the glory? Or, you may be in a time now, waiting for an answered prayer. You may have been praying for many years for a restored marriage, a wayward child, or healing of a lengthy illness. I hope you see in these verses that sometimes the purpose of God’s answer of “wait” is to show you His great love for you and to strengthen your faith! In verse 14, Jesus said, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.” Jesus was prepared to teach those mourning for Lazarus and His disciples something powerful in allowing Lazarus to die.
Continuing in her grief, in verse 20, Martha went and met Jesus before He was even in their village. Mary stayed inside grieving with the many friends who had come to console them. Martha says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” A little while later we see in verse 32 Mary says the same thing: “Lord, if you had been there, my brother would not have died.” They say the same thing to Jesus, but the difference is in the way Jesus responds to each one. To Martha, Jesus gives a strong reminder of who He is and what He can do. With Mary, “…he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled” and then, He wept (John 11:33, 35 ESV). Martha began questioning Jesus again in verse 38 before Jesus performed His miracle. When Jesus told them to remove the stone, she says,
“Lord, by this time there will be an odor for he has been dead four days.” And Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of
God?” (John 11:39-40)
The glory of God was certainly revealed when Lazarus came out of the tomb alive! Can you imagine? Praise the Lord who overcame death!
We observe both women getting valuable insight from Jesus, but even in that, we see one who trusted Jesus and His ways without question. What can we learn from these differing attitudes? Martha was walking with Jesus and believing, but everything was a struggle with her because she couldn’t rest in Jesus and trust Him. Mary still had the same struggles and deep grief. But in that grief, she took a posture of humility before Him, falling at His feet and stating that she knew what He could do without questioning why He didn’t do it. He loved and cared for both women, but one was always putting up a fight and one lived in humble trust.
My prayer for you is that you learn to live in humble trust as Mary did. Put down your work, and lay your grief humbly at His feet. Trust that He sees you, knows you, and loves you! Wait and see what He will do!
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- Which sister do you see in yourself? Are you in a place of questioning why something in your life is going the way it is? Are you the first to run to Jesus to “tell Him what’s what” or do you humbly approach Him, drawing closer to Him through each struggle?
Ask the Lord to help you to trust that He cares for you and will work everything for His glory. Lay your burdens down at His feet knowing that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).