“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’…Jesus wept.” (John 11:32, 35)
In verse 32 Mary is speaking to Jesus after her brother Lazarus has died. Mary and Martha (Lazarus’ sisters) had sent for Jesus days before with the message that Lazarus was sick. By the time Jesus had arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Mary sees Jesus, recognizes His power and sees that if Jesus had been there in time He could have saved Lazarus- but He wasn’t there. Jesus saw how distraught Mary was and became so troubled that He wept. Jesus wept at the loss of His friend Lazarus, He wept for the hurt He saw Mary and Martha walking through. He wept. He didn’t see the hurt and ignore it; He felt the pain with them and His heart broke with theirs. And though Mary knew that if Jesus had been there her brother would not be dead, she chose to turn to Him and continue to put her trust in Him.
How often do I find myself in the same spot as Mary and Martha, looking towards God saying “if only You had been here”. I have been in that spot more times than I would like to admit. God has the power to heal and restore anything He chooses, yet when He doesn’t- it can be so easy to feel betrayed, abandoned, hurt. The pain of an unanswered prayer that I know could have been answered is a pain that can feel unbearable sometimes. Mary and Martha felt that pain to a most extreme level because they were in the physical presence of Jesus, but He was just too late to save Lazarus. I will be honest, my natural form of self protection is to just place the blame on God rather than place my hope in Him out of fear that He won’t answer me. I don’t want to let myself feel hope because I can’t bear the reality of it not ending like I hoped it would. However, Martha and Mary were different from me in this, they KNEW that if Jesus had been there Lazarus wouldn’t have died, BUT they STILL had their trust in the Lord basically acknowledging “it is Your will not mine” to Jesus. Oh how I strive to cry that out from the deepest part of my soul and mean it, even in the darkest seasons. Because the reality of it is that Jesus’ heart breaks when mine does, in my darkest seasons when I am just overcome by grief, Jesus weeps with me. He loves me so much that He will weep for me, and He won’t leave me alone in my pain. He stays with me, holds me close, all the while He is working something for my good. How crazy is that?
Today I am choosing to believe that Jesus weeps with me. I am choosing to trust that God is moving in my life even if I can’t see His answers to my prayers in the way I want, I am choosing to cry out “Your will not mine”.
“Dear Jesus, what a comforting truth it is that You wept, that You felt pain and know what I am going through. I pray that I will be able to trust You today knowing that even if my prayers aren’t being answered the way I want them to, You are still working and You didn’t abandon me. I pray You would help me to trust You and turn towards You in my pain, rather than turn away from You. In Your name I pray, Amen.”
Get to a place where you can focus and read the daily Scripture passage several times. From the passage of Scripture you read, highlight one or two verses that stick out. Write them down, and even consider rewriting the verse(s) in your own words.
Make some basic observations about the scripture you just read by asking these questions:
- Why was this written?
- To whom was it originally written?
- What is the author trying to communicate?
- What does the Scripture passage teach me about God and humanity?
After taking some time explaining the highlighted scriptures, begin to think about how they apply to your life. Ask yourself these questions and spend some time writing down your thoughts:
- What do these verses mean today?
- What does this verse(s) mean for my life?
- How does this verse challenge my thinking and actions?
- What changes do I need to make in my life as a result of this passage of Scripture?
Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through the Bible verses. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.