We all have heard the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. A family who had dedicated their lives to ministering to Jesus and to others. A family who found themselves in need of a miracle, that only Jesus could bring.
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (2) It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. (3) So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” (John 11:1-3)
The request had been made to Jesus. Lazarus was unwell and the sisters wanted the Lord to know. “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Yet after receiving the news, Jesus waited instead of rushing to Mary and Martha.
But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.
As I was reading this passage of Scripture, the Spirit of God began to draw my heart to verse four. I gleaned several important truths from this one passage that I wish to entrust to you today. Number One: Jesus heard. The sisters had sent word to Jesus of the condition of their brother Lazarus. At the beginning of verse four, it states, “But when Jesus heard this.” Jesus promises to hear our prayers. We don’t have to “keep to ourselves” any request. We can come confidently and boldly to Jesus, with anything. Hebrews 4:16 states, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Number Two: Jesus spoke. He immediately addressed the situation in regards to Lazarus. In other words, He never once ignored the request sent by the sisters. Once again, verse four states, “But when Jesus heard this, He said.” Always remember, when it comes to praying, not only does Jesus love to hear from His children, He also loves to speak to us personally. His message, in reference to the trial with Lazarus, was one of hope.
Number Three: Jesus knew the “end result.” While the sisters could only see the current condition, Jesus saw way more. The Lord stated, “This sickness is not to end in death.” Jesus knew what was coming. He knew the miracle that was soon to unfold.
We must trust the Lord with the trial at hand while remembering, He sees way more than we can. We may not see any way out of the situation. But He does. He holds in His hands, the end result. Trust Him.
Number Four: Jesus knew the “purpose” for the trial. Let’s pick back up with John 11.
But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He *said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples *said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 This He said, and after that He *said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.”
Jesus knew there was another purpose for the trial, than what anyone could see at the time. What was the purpose of their hardship? Look once more at the end of verse four: “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Now, look once more at verse 15: “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe.”
The story ended exactly how Jesus had stated. He was glorified and many people believed. Verse 45 states, “Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.”
Had Mary and Martha known the purpose of their trial, would they have responded inversely? How about you? If you knew the “end result” of your current hardship, how might you respond differently?
At times, we get so caught up in the trial, instead of in the Lord. Friend, He knows what you are going through. He hears your prayers. He will speak to you. He sees and knows the end result and most importantly, the purpose of the trial. Nothing you and I will ever face will be wasted. He’s moving. He’s coming. He’s working even now on your behalf.
About the Writer:
Shea is the mother of two and Nana of five and enjoys both roles tremendously. She also loves the opportunity to serve through ministry and share through speaking and blogging. A member of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Shea serves with the church’s First Impressions ministry and teaches the Strong & Courageous Sunday School class for single moms. She also speaks to women’s groups, assists with biblical counseling when opportunities arise and is constantly working to develop women’s Bible studies. Shea received her bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministry from Blue Mountain College in Blue Mountain, Mississippi; her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and is currently working on her doctorate in Family Ministries at Southwestern in family ministries in the fall.