Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 ESV).
Friend to Friend:
Have you ever gone through a situation and wondered, Jesus where are You? If You had been here, this wouldn’t have happened. The loss of a loved one? The crash of a car? The devastation of property? Did you know that two women in the Bible felt the same way…and actually told Jesus just how they felt about it!
Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. He often stopped by their home for a hot meal during His travels. I’d dare say they were some of His closest friends. And yet, when the girls sent someone to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick, He didn’t go…at least not right away.
The Bible tells us, “So, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea” (John 11:6-7 NIV).
It’s the word “so” that stops me in my tracks. He loved them “so” He didn’t go. The sentence doesn’t say, but He stayed there two more days, as if it were a careless mistake. It says so as if it were a calculated plan. It was.
Once Jesus decided to return to Bethany of Judea, His disciples tried to talk Him out of it. A short while ago, the folks there had tried to kill Him. But Jesus wasn’t worried.
He told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him” (John 11:14-15).
Hold on just a minute. Did you catch what Jesus just said? “I’m glad I wasn’t there.” Those words stop me in my tracks too. Why was Jesus glad that one of His best friends had died? Because God had a greater plan.
When I go through something painful, I don’t want a friend to say to me, “I’m glad it happened.” If they did, they wouldn’t be a friend much longer. However, God sees what we can’t see. Sometimes what we have in mind is not what God has in store.
Why would Jesus say, “I’m glad I wasn’t there?” Why would God be glad that hurt that feels like it is tearing us apart happened? I think it is because He knows that the mended heart will be much more stunning and substantially stronger than the unscathed soul. He looks through the lens of the process to view the finished product we cannot see.
It’s hard when you read the stories in the Bible or hear about a modern-day miracle and know that God can do something but He’s not doing it for you. I’m sure it was hard for Mary and Martha who had seen Jesus do magnificent miracles to understand why he wasn’t doing one for them. We silently think, If God really loved me, He would…
Answer my prayer.
Stop the struggle.
Rush to my rescue.
Send me a husband.
Make me fertile.
Save my husband.
And He would do it now.
When Jesus finally arrived, Martha ran to Him and said, “If you had been here my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Then Mary ran to Him and said the same words (John 11:32). Two sisters. One conclusion.
Have you ever said those words? I’ll admit, I have. Men and women throughout the Bible voiced their disappointment when God didn’t act as they had hoped. Even Jesus, when He hung on the cross, did not call out the comforting words of the twenty-third Psalm but the agonizing words of the twenty-second.
God promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. And yet, when we are in the dark chapters of our story, it can feel as if He is far, far away. And we wonder why He didn’t stop the thing that tore our world apart from happening. Because He has a plan.
After Jesus spoke to Martha and Mary, He walked to Lazarus’s tomb—a cave sealed by a large stone. Nothing going in. Nothing coming out. Or so it seemed. Then Jesus said, “Lazarus come out” and he did.
Sometimes a seemingly bad thing happens so that God’s best can be born. Jesus told Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).
God frees us from our small, short-sighted interpretations to reveal a complex multi-layered ending that makes our jaws drop. All the while asking, “Will you trust me?”
And when we echo Martha’s cry, God where are You? His answer is always, I’m right here. Working all this out for your good.
Father, help me trust that You always have a better plan for my life than I could ever come up with on my own.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Let’s Keep in Touch
June 30, 2023, Girlfriends in God is coming to a close. Thank you for linking arms with us in ministry for the past 17 years. We still want to share life with you! Click here to continue receiving devotions from Sharon Jaynes on Tuesdays. Click here to continue receiving devotions from Mary Southerland on Wednesdays. Click here to continue receiving devotions from Gwen Smith on Thursdays.
Now It’s Your Turn
What difficult situation do you need to trust Jesus with today?
More From the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion was an excerpt from Sharon’s book, Never Less Than: Living Empowered, Esteemed, and Equipped When the Word Tells You Otherwise. Get Your copy today.
(This is a revised and updated edition of How Jesus Broke the Rules to Set You Free).
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