Her heart was broken. It had been 4 days since her brother died, and I can just imagine Martha sitting with the crowd of mourners asking, "why?"
Why did Lazarus have to die?
Why didn't Jesus come?
Why didn't God heal him?
Martha had sent a messenger to Jesus two days before Lazarus died. For Martha and her family Jesus wasn't just a prophet, a miracle worker, the Messiah. Jesus was a friend. She told him that Lazarus was ill, very ill, and Jesus' words had given her hope.
But when Jesus heard it he said, "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." (John 11:4)It seemed Jesus was wrong. Lazarus has died, and there was nothing Martha could do.
I can only imagine the pain that Martha went through. I've never lost someone so close to me,and yet there have been many times in my life when I prayed and God didn't show up, at least not like I wanted.
I wanted him to swoop in and save me, heal my broken heart, erase a bad situation, and take away the pain and fear that overwhelmed me. But he didn't. He sent me messages of hope and healing, but at the end of the day the pain was still very real and very present. There was no knight in shining armor.
Sometimes it's hard for us to understand why God lets bad things happen. We know he is able to help and to heal.We know he has the power to make things right, but sometimes he doesn't. He allows us to go through valleys and dark places, and we don't always understand why.
It's tempting to be angry. Bitterness naturally wells up within us. It's part of our sin nature. We wonder what we've done wrong. We start to doubt whether everything we believe is true or if maybe God isn't who he says he is.
I believe Martha struggled too. She was human after all, and I think during those four long days of mourning Martha had a very important decision to make. She could let bitterness take over in her grief, or she could have faith that God's plan is always best even when we're heartbroken.
John 11:17 tells us Jesus arrived after Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. Martha left the crowd of mourners gathered in her brother's honor to run and meet Jesus.
She doesn't come to him with anger. She doesn't come to him with bitterness or confusion. She simply comes to him in faith.
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (John 11:21)Martha spoke the truth, openly and honestly.
"But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." (John 11:22)She acknowledged Jesus' power. He didn't heal her brother. He didn't do what she'd hoped, and yet she still had faith in his power and in his prayers.
Martha lays her heart before Jesus. She doesn't beat around the bush and pretend that the hurt and brokenness isn't there. She admits them, and I believe she silently asks Jesus, "why?".
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."(John 11:25-27)Yes Lord, I believe.
Martha's confession reminds me so much of Peter's. In the midst of her mourning, her faith was not shaken because she was confident in whom she'd believed.
Jesus was the Christ, but he was also her friend and she trusted him.
Of course, Martha's story has a beautiful ending. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It was one of the defining moments of Jesus ministry. There could be no doubt that Lazarus was dead, and in the presences of many witnesses Jesus brought him back to life. God was glorified and many people would come to believe in Jesus because of this great miracle.
However, in our lives there isn't always so great a miracle. Sometimes bad things happen, and we are left to deal with the emptiness that follows.
However, if we can learn anything from Martha's story, it's this. Our faith isn't founded on our circumstances. It's founded on who Jesus is.
He has the power to heal, even when he doesn't.
He is always with us, even when we feel alone.
He is always good, even when life is falling apart.
He is the Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world so that we could have life in him.
So whether that life is in this world or the next, have faith. We serve a God who answers prayers.