Dead Not Dead: If You Had Been Here . . .

” ‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ ” (John 11:21-23)

We skipped a few verses in which Jesus and his disciples finally arrive in Bethany. Lazarus has been dead four days. The village is crowded with mourners from Jerusalem: friends, family, and acquaintances. In spite of being a wanted man, Jesus isn’t keeping a low profile. Martha hears he’s coming and goes to meet him.

deadnot_350What would you say to him? You send a message asking God to use his power to save your brother. Silence. He just doesn’t show. Your brother dies. What do you want to say to God now? How do you respond to that?

Martha might be expressing some disappointment in today’s verse – but within a context of faith: She is absolutely confident that Jesus could have saved her brother and that he still has access to the God of the universe. The loss of her brother hasn’t shaken her faith in God’s power. Does she still trust his goodness and love?

Think: We often judge God’s character by our own personal circumstances. Is that fair? If not, why not – and by what standard should we try to make a right assessment of God’s character?

Pray: Ask God to help you to trust his power even when he doesn’t use it to do the good thing you wanted him to do. Ask him to help you to be convinced that his plan is best.

Do: If you have a close relationship with a strong Christian who has lost a loved one, think about asking them how their view of God changed (or didn’t) as a result of that circumstance.