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Getting to Know Jesus: When Jesus Was Late

“This wasn’t supposed to happen!”

“Where was God when I needed Him most?”

“I was believing God that my marriage would be restored. Today my husband filed for divorce!”

“I didn’t count on this recession. I prayed for God to help us financially. I can’t believe the bank foreclosed on the house.”

“I did the best I could as a Mom, how could this happen to my child?”

“We prayed for a miracle healing, but my loved one died. How could God let this happen?”

These are words spoken by real women when their real lives didn’t turn out the way they expected. These questions are filled with shock, heartache, and disappointment. They are very much like the words that both Mary and Martha spoke to Jesus in John 11, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Honestly, it was hard for them to understand. You see, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were Jesus’ close friends. When He was in Bethany, He came to their home for dinner. They had private, personal conversations. Lazarus and his sisters loved Jesus deeply. They believed that He was the Messiah. In a town where it was dangerous to be one of Jesus’ followers, they were completely committed to His cause.

Then one day Lazarus became ill. Frightened of what might happen, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus. He could help them. They had seen Him heal sick people many times. They were sure that as soon as He heard about Lazarus’ illness, He would come and touch him.

So they sent word. Listen to the how their words describe the closeness of their relationship. John 11:3 “So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one You love is sick."

Then they waited for Him to come. Time passed and Jesus didn’t arrive. Instead, the unthinkable happened. Lazarus died.

The sisters were devastated. How could this happen? Why didn’t Jesus come? How could He let their brother, a man who was Jesus’ close, personal friend, die? What would they do without Lazarus? Their hearts were shattered.

Amidst all their pain and all their questions, there were funeral and burial arrangements to be made. People came from all around to comfort them. Yet in among all of the people, they could not find comfort. One, two, three days passed. Still, no Jesus. The sisters continued to grieve the loss of their beloved brother.

Finally, on the fourth day Jesus arrived. As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming she went out to meet Him. The first words out of her mouth were, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

These were the same words Mary said when Jesus arrived at the house. They were filled with disappointment—not unbelief—disappointment. They were shocked at what happened. They were confused. They were grieving.

How did Jesus respond to these two hurting women? John 11:33-35 tell us, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" He asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept.

Jesus was moved by their heartache. He identified with their pain. He didn’t say, “Come on, Ladies, get a grip. This is what God wanted.”

No, He cried with them. He comforted them. He was moved by their agony. He hurt because He saw the emotional pain these women were suffering.

Jesus wasn’t offended by their questions. He didn’t call their words a sin. He understood that they were shocked and disappointed. Even though He knew that this was all a part of God’s plan, He understood that they didn’t know God’s plan. He didn’t criticize or judge them. He wasn’t harsh with them. Rather, He cried because He understood how difficult it was for these women to live through the plans that God had orchestrated. His heart went out to them. His love for Mary and Martha caused Him to weep.

Because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, this same Jesus hurts for you when you are grieving. (Hebrews 13:8) Although He knows the whys and the outcome, His heart goes out to you in your time of pain.

Hebrews 4:15-16 says “For we do not have a high priest Who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One Who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

The Bible even says that Jesus prays for us. (Hebrew 7:25) Because He came to earth and experienced humanity, He is able to identify with our suffering. From that understanding, He intercedes for us to the Heavenly Father.

Remember, Jesus experienced all kinds of pain and suffering while He was on earth. Among these was the pain of Lazarus’ death and the extreme heartache it brought to Mary and Martha. He understands when tragedies strike and disappointments occur. He knows the feelings that go along with them.

He isn’t offended by angry, painful questions of “Why? How could you let this happen?” He just says, “Come to Me. Tell Me how you feel. Cry on My shoulder. Let it all out. I understand that you are hurting.”

Like He did with Mary and Martha, He wants to be there to cry with you. Although I can’t promise that you will get a miracle like Mary and Martha did, I can promise that Jesus will be there for you to help you every step of the way. He will help you walk through every step of the grieving process and He will help you start a new life. Through it all, He will be praying for you.

You’re in His thoughts

You’re in His prayers

Through every trial, Jesus is there

He’ll carry you

In His tender care

You’re in His thoughts, and you’re in His prayers

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