you know how there are times when something sticks with you, long after you first engage it? well, the following is from one of my Life Journal readings this week, and my mind keeps returning to it.
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask." —John 11:21,22
"Roll the stone aside," Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man's sister, said, "Lord, by now the smell will be terrible because he has been dead for four days." —John 11:39
if you were reading this story for the first time, not knowing as we do that Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead, you might think that this is a tale of 'too little, too late'. given that both Martha and her sister, Mary's first words to Jesus when he returned were identical (John 10:32), you have a good sense that these sisters have spoken these words of disappointment and disillusionment to each other in their private moments of grief.

but Martha goes a step further. she tells Jesus that she knows that he has the ear of God. she knows that God will act if Jesus makes a request.

i don't know what is behind Martha's words. is she saying that on some level she believes Jesus could bring her brother back? or is she saying instead, that regardless of the circumstances, she still knows and trusts him as the Son of God?

regardless, fast forward to the graveside, and Jesus asks for the stone to be moved. suddenly Martha steps forward, the same Martha who believes that God will work on Jesus' behalf, and attempts to stop the whatever might happen because of the smell. yes, that's right, an odor. in that moment, personal comfort became more important than getting her brother back.

we humans are bundles of paradox.

we say we trust God, then take matters into our own hands. we say we will follow Jesus, but waver if our comfort has to be sacrificed. we say we love God, but have difficulty loving his people. like the man who brought his demon possessed son to Jesus in Mark 9:24, who said, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief," we are mixed packages. belief coexists with unbelief.

we want our brother back, but we don't want him to smell.

as a child of God, i need to live in the tension between the belief and the unbelief, always striving toward belief, and less toward personal comfort. to trust more the guidance i get from sitting at Jesus' feet, than what i know of the natural world i live in. to know that regardless what the situation looks like, and how impossible from a physical, knowable perspective something may be, that the Son of God has resources, ideas and solutions that my human mind cannot imagine.

my job is to trust he who knows more than me, no matter how badly i think it might smell.


bellaverita said...

So true, my friend. I really liked this. It's so easy to get caught up in unbelief and not realize "...that the Son of God has resources, ideas and solutions that my human mind cannot imagine." A great reminder to put aside the desire for comfort and strive towards believing God, simply because it's what is absolutely necessary to live. Thanks for this, Suzi.

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