We love stories with happy endings, especially when faith is involved. We pray, and someone is healed. Our someone has a terrible car crash, yet emerges unhurt. “God was surely with you that day!” we say.
Yet we also know that the endings aren’t always happy, not even for Christians. An illness runs its course, an accident ends in tragedy, violence befalls the innocent… and we stand at a graveside wondering, “Why wasn’t God with them?”
What are we to think when God doesn’t show up?
In John 11, a family that Jesus was close to was facing a crisis. Lazarus, a man Jesus loved, was gravely ill. Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, sent word to Jesus to come quickly.
But He didn’t. Jesus waited two days before making the trip. In fact, Jesus didn’t set out until Lazarus was already dead.
Did He not care? Of course He cared… this story includes the famous verse: “Jesus wept.”
Was He afraid that He couldn’t handle the problem? No, He knew that his Father would give Him anything He asked.
In fact, He knew that God was going to work a great miracle through Jesus, one that would forever seal in His disciples’ mind the question of Jesus’ identity.
But Mary and Martha didn’t know that. All they knew was that Jesus didn’t show up. God didn’t show up. And their brother died.
“If you had been here…” was their accusation, their plea, their question. It was the expression of their pain. It was their faith crying out for confirmation. They believed in Jesus; was their trust misplaced?
Jesus’ words to Mary are His words to us as well:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
We need to know He cares. We need to know He has power over death. And we need to believe.
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
We just have to believe. Even when it seems that God doesn’t show up.
– Tim Archer, Herald of Truth Ministries