We face trials of many kinds: friends move away, loved ones die. We lose a career, or we face other hardships.
In spite of it all, however, we need to understand that God loves us, and He is loving us through the most trying, difficult struggles in our lives.
When Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was sick, Jesus did not go right away to heal him:
"Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was." (John 11:5-6)
Jesus loved Mary and Martha; therefore, He delayed coming to them.
What's going on here?
Jesus explains to His disciples:
"15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him." (John 11:15)
He wants us to believe on Him, for that is the work of God (John 6:29), and Jesus goes out of His way to help us believe on Him too!
The account of Lazarus coming from the dead is powerful, but then see what happened once Jesus raised him from the dead:
"45Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him." (John 11:45)
Not a few, not some, buy MANY Jews believed in Jesus after Lazarus was raised from the dead.
While Mary and Martha wanted to be spared the separation from their brother, Jesus was invested in the bigger picture:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
Jesus wants ALL of us to have life. There's more at stake than our own piecemeal comfort.
It's so easy to read through this passage without really meditating on what is taking place here:
"1Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him." (John 12:1-2)
Can you imagine what must have been going through Martha's mind when she was serving Jesus and her brother--raised from the dead!--at the same table?!
Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, was seated in her home, and she not only received her brother back from the dead!
Notice also that Martha was not full of cares or worries this time. Unlike in Luke's account (Luke 10:38-42), in which she complained that Jesus was not ordering her sister Mary to help her, Martha happily serves Jesus and her brother. It's easy to serve others when you know that you have been served in the greatest way possible.
"19 We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19, NIV)
Notice also the greater glory accorded to Mary:
"3Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this." (John 12:3-7)
Mary received great honor in preparing Jesus for His death and burial.
In Mark's account, Jesus announces the great honor that will be accorded to Mary:
"9Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." (Mark 14:9)
Imagine if Jesus had healed Larazus before dying ... then Mary would have had no occasion to anoint Jesus' feet and receive such greater honor!
And not just glory for Mary:
"Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead." (John 12:9)
Lazarus became a celebrity of sorts, but more importantly a living--yes, living--testimony to God's grace.
What greater glory can one receive? God heals us, blesses us, and then we receive glory and blessing from others because of what Jesus did for us?
Lazarus would have been deprived of all of this if he had not died, and Jesus had not raised him from the dead!
Jesus loved Mary and Martha.
He wanted to honor them, He wanted them to believe on Him, and He wanted many others to believe on Him, too, since that's what He is all about--saving as many as He can.
He wants to bless us, and those blessings can't happen if He answers our immediate requests right away. There's a bigger picture, and He wants us to feature in it.
Don't fret or fear if there are delays. God is doing great things for you, and for many others.