Several biblical characters have said things to, or about, God that blew my mind. I certainly wouldn’t have the courage to talk to, or about, God like they did. Jonah, for example, who was upset because God spared Nineveh, said, “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish” (Jonah 4:2, New Living Translation). Elijah, whom we discussed last week, had had enough of his prophetic responsibilities and told God, “I have had enough, Lord, … Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (1 Kings 19:4, New Living Translation). Finally, the Pharisees, Jesus’ toughest critics, said, “No wonder he can cast out demons. He gets his power from Satan, the prince of demons” (Matthew 12:24, New Living Translation).
After reading the verses cited above, however, I added Mary and Martha to my list. When Jesus came to their rescue, demonstrating His love and concern for people in need, they said, “Lord, if you had been here, Lazarus would still be alive.” Just imagine the response Jesus could have given: “Are you serious? Don’t you know who I am?” But as I read the remainder of the story, I noticed that Jesus didn’t rebuke or scold them. He just listened and let them empty their hearts. He understood how frustrated they were and gave them an opportunity to let it out.
Jesus’ response assured me that we can vent to God. He will listen as we ring out every drop of our emotions. Still have that disaster on your mind? Let it out; He’s waiting to hear from you. Just be willing to listen whenever He answers.
I was hungry Sunday evening, so I decided to order a pizza. I even ordered it on my way home to reduce the time I would have to wait. When I got home, however, it seemed like this delivery took forever. The more I thought about it, the more I thought about calling again. Maybe they had forgotten about my order. Maybe the delivery person got lost. No sooner than these thoughts raced through my mind, I heard a knock at the door. It was the delivery man with one of the best pizzas I’ve ever ordered.
Have you ever had an experience like this with God? Have you ever needed Him immediately, and it seemed like He took His time responding? Just imagine how Mary and Martha felt when Jesus stayed where He was two more days. Later, they blamed Lazarus’s death on Jesus’ late arrival. But Jesus taught them a lesson that’s still applicable to us: God’s delay is not denial. He showed up and intervened in their circumstances as only He can!
Sometimes God does not answer our prayers when, or how, we think He should, and this often threatens our faith. In these moments, we must remember that His Word is still true: if we wait for Him, He will renew our strength (see Isaiah 40:31). Don’t give up on God; just hang in there until He comes.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard about several family members, or friends of the family, who have died. My heart goes out to their family and friends; losing a loved one is not easy, especially when it’s unexpected. We tend to handle tragedy better when we see it coming. Just think about how many people rush to grocery stores to purchase necessities when they hear about inclement weather. But, how to you cope when the tragedy comes out of nowhere? How do you respond when life deals you a hand you didn’t expect?
Mary and Martha encountered a series of unexpected events. Their brother Lazarus became gravely ill, and if you recall the story, he eventually died. Just think of all the responses they could have had – panic attacks, frustration, substance abuse, or suicide. Despite the various alternatives, Mary and Martha chose the best response – they called on Jesus. And most importantly, John emphasizes one detail: Jesus heard what they said!
This email is just a reminder that heaven’s hotline is never busy, and the circuits are never filled. There won’t be long distance or international rates applied, and your minutes never expire. If you call on Jesus, especially in a time of need, He’ll hear you. Just a little talk with Jesus makes it right!