How long can four days last? Jesus loved to visit the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Sometimes when the crowds got to be overwhelming, the road got to be a little too long and He needed to just get away for a while, Jesus loved to retreat to their home for some old-fashioned rest and relaxation.
He loved these three people as well. Mary used to challenge Him with theological questions about what He taught. Then to demonstrate that she had an innate belief in what He said about Himself, she was known to have broken open an alabaster box and poured expensive perfume on Him as an act of worship. Yes, Jesus loved Mary.
He sure did love Martha too. Everybody loves a good cook and Martha was really a super cook. She could take a pot of turnip greens, throw a chunk of ham in there and change it from greens to greens! Jesus loved that. Come to think of it, I do too.
Lazarus was His good friend. They laughed together, probably fished together, discussed the sports and politics of their day; yes, Lazarus was a good and trusted friend. I see why Jesus loved their place so much.
One day though, as it does in every home, crisis came. Lazarus got sick. Not just a little sick, really sick. In fact if you read the story from back to front you know that in fact Lazarus died from his illness. Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus: “Lord, the one you love is sick.” They expected Him to come.
Well, they sent Him the message about a sick relative and He didn’t come. He didn’t call; He didn’t even send a card that said He was remembering them in prayer. In fact, the silence from Jesus to their request was deafening! They must have been confused, especially when Lazarus died. There was still no word from Jesus.
“He ate our food, now He can’t even send us a word to let us know He got our message,” Martha must have said. I’m sure Mary must have wondered aloud, “He acted like He enjoyed my company, He knew I believed in Him and now He is nowhere to be found.” Perhaps their thought was that they overestimated their friendship with Him. Maybe they or He overestimated His ability to actually do all the things He talked about, and now that a real situation existed that would ‘put Him to the test,’ He just steered clear to avoid embarrassment. They must have wondered about all of these things.
All they knew was that they had a need that only He could meet and He was not anywhere to be seen.
You’ve been right there, haven’t you? “Lord, I have not missed a Sunday. I’m a teacher, a deacon, a committee member, I give, I sing in the choir and I’ve supported missions. Nobody’s been more faithful than me and now I have a need, and I’ve asked you for help, and You haven’t come!”
For Mary and Martha it was four days after Lazarus died before Jesus showed up. They were asking, and some of you are asking: “How long can four days last?”
Four days. The time between when we KNOW we have a need that only God can meet and the time when He shows up to do something about it.
There are several things you can know during your four days of waiting: Number one: You can know that He IS coming. He may not come when you WANT Him to come but He IS coming! So while you’re waiting don’t come out of the prayer closet, don’t throw away your Bible, don’t stop coming to church, don’t stop serving or sharing or participating in the work. Just know that no matter what it looks like or feels like, Jesus is on the way and He WILL be there and when He gets there you want to be found ready and waiting for Him.
Number two: You can know that He already KNOWS what He’s going to do when He gets there. Just like He may not come when you want Him, He also may not do what you have asked Him to do when He gets there. If He doesn’t then rest assured what He does will be better than what you asked for in the first place.
Mary and Martha sent word and asked for a healing. Jesus, knowing what He was going to do when He got there, knew that a resurrection beats a healing any day of the week! They didn’t get what they asked for – they got something better! And as a result after Lazarus was raised, the scripture says many got saved!
Number three: What you go through during your four days of waiting will end up being for YOUR good and God’s glory. Paul said in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Hang on, pray on, believe on and press on. Even in the four days of waiting that many of you are in right now, remember that He’s coming, He knows what He’s going to do when He gets there, His plan is better than ours anyway and He has promised and He is bound by that promise that everything in our lives (good, bad and ugly) is working out for OUR good and His glory!
Written by Dr. Jeff Steele, a monthly columnist for SGN Scoops digital magazine. For current issues, visit http://www.sgnscoops.com/
Published by SGN Scoops in August 2014.