This question has been staring me in the face this week: Can I trust Christ where my common sense cannot?
Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest) defines spiritual tenacity as “more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered. . . to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted.”
Which leads me to the passage of scripture I happened upon today, one of my favorites – John 11. In a nutshell, Jesus gets word that his dear friend Lazarus (brother to Martha and Mary) is very ill. He’s being urged to go to them but instead he stays put for two more days knowing that Lazarus is “asleep.” Finally he decides to go to Judea where Lazarus and his sisters live despite the fact that he’s a wanted man at this point. In fact, good old Thomas says, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.” John 11:16
Upon his arrival Martha runs out to meet Jesus. You might remember Martha from Luke chapter 10, she’s the Martha Stewart gal making all the preparations and actually scolding Jesus for letting her sister Mary just sit around (you know, and listen at the feet of the Son of God, Creator of the universe….no big deal right??) I see Martha as the practical one, the level head, Ms. Objectivity if you will. She walks up to Jesus and lays it out plainly, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vs 21) Isn’t she really saying this, “How could you have let this happen?!“
You, friend, who’s suffered your share of tragedy – isn’t this the honest-to-God cry of our wounded hearts when things go terribly wrong? When the spouse walks out, when the child dies, when the tornado hits, when . . .
Yet Martha immediately follows up her bold question with, “Even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give it to you.” vs 22. It’s here that Jesus decides to throw a wrench into Martha’s commonsensical brain and says the most crazy-pants thing ever, “He will rise again.” Martha’s a smart girl; she knows her stuff – sure, sure Lord, like on the resurrection. I get it. Great.
I am imagining his face with a “beloved, you’re not getting it” look on it – He says, “”I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” vs 25-26 BOOM. Don’t trust what you think you know about me. TRUST ME. Defy common sense. Send it packing.
I love Martha here . . . she meets Him with the most perfect answer, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God . . .” vs 27. When life gets plain ugly, it takes more than just believing in God; we must believe HIM. Trust that He will not be worsted, to hang on with the hope that He is always, always good.
Back to our story – Martha goes to gather Mary, who I relate to so much more. Mary the mess I like to call her. Mary’s the one who chose to sit at Jesus feet and drink in His teaching rather than tend to her duties. Mary is in full-blown mourning for her brother. She hears that Jesus has arrived and is calling for her, and she jumps up to meet Him. She is taking this mess to the Lord. Mary the mess falls at His feet (I like a little drama too so don’t hate) and blurts out, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” vs 32 (I.e. Where were you on this one?)
I imagine Mary the mess with her face swollen from crying, blotchy, red – ugly crying – bloodshot eyes, nose running, voice hoarse, back aching from being bent over in grief. I am well acquainted with this look.
Jesus sees Mary’s grief and that of the other mourners and despite what He knows, despite what He is about to do, He is “deeply moved . . . Jesus wept.” vs 33/35 I simply get lost in those words. The King of Kings, Alpha and Omega, the Word – weeps. Lord, I love you.
Jesus goes to the tomb and asks them to remove the stone. Martha, Ms. practical is like, “Not a good idea . . . he stinks by now!” No matter, Jesus is about to shake that stink off of everyone . . . He says, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” vs 40
If you know the rest of the story (or if you don’t) Jesus calls for Lazarus to come forth, and sure enough – he comes hopping out, wrapped up like a mummy. Glory.
If you believe, you will see the Glory of God. Look, I don’t know what you’re up against. Life is complete crap sometimes, and perhaps that’s where you are. Perhaps you are just grasping for some bit of hope, pleading with God for relief. Take it from a fellow grasper, a mess in a dress . . . Believe Him, and you WILL see the glory of God.