August 17, 2020
Now a man named Lazarus was sick . . . So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days . . .
What a strange juxtaposition in these few verses. John takes time to describe how much Jesus loves Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. The next verse indicates that BECAUSE of this great love, he waits where he is instead of flying to the bedside of his sick friend. That doesn’t make any sense in the moment. In fact, many would see Jesus’s response as a lack of compassion. How do his actions translate into love?
Before we try to answer that question, let’s put you in this story. Have you ever felt like Mary and Martha? Have you ever prayed over a difficult situation or painful relationship, only to feel like there is no response? In that period of silence, did you feel greatly loved? I would expect not.
As we turn our eyes back to Jesus, we can see two things very clearly. The first is that he had knowledge others did not. “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory . . .” Jesus was operating in a plan that went far beyond what Mary and Martha could see from Lazarus’s bedside. As difficult as it might seem, when God is silent, we have to ask if there is something we do not yet see. Living in that faith is what allows God’s glory to manifest itself.
The second thing we can see in Jesus’s waiting is that he was planning to reveal himself in a new way. It’s likely that Jesus was known as a great healer. So the call for him to come was a plea for healing. They did not know Jesus was much more than a healer. He wielded power over death. Had Jesus come to Lazarus and healed him, Mary and Martha would never have known him in all of his power.
So the next time you feel God’s silence, begin asking yourself, “Is there something more that God is doing here than what I am asking?” You may be asking for an end to pain, when God wants to give you endurance and perspective. You might be asking for a certain job, when God has a different job waiting in the wings. Also ask yourself if you are limiting the way you want God to answer your prayer. Perhaps you want God to bring comfort, when he wants to bring strength. You might ask for money when God wants to reveal himself as a creative provider. This week, look for opportunities to expand your idea of who God is and what he wants to do, especially if you find yourself in those moments of “conversational silence” with God.