We encounter experiences in life that makes it look as though we have failed or lost in certain areas. Maybe you were believing God was going to come through for you regarding a particular situation. But despite doing everything right, things still went wrong. You feel defeated and in those moments, the devil seems to have gained an upper hand.
Defeat is never a nice feeling. And sometimes the devil taunt us with the victories he thinks he has had over us. Victories like delaying certain answers to our prayers just like he did with Daniel. These are counterfeit victories. They look real but they are not.
The devil did something similar to Mary, Martha and Lazarus in John 11:1-44. Seeing their brother sick, Mary and Martha did the right thing by sending for Jesus Christ. For them to have done this, they must have believed in His ability to heal their brother so they had faith.
The message they delivered to Jesus was personal.
They identified Jesus Christ as Lord (humility).
They identified with the personal relationship He had with their brother.
They told Him exactly what the situation was. Their brother was sick. They didn’t ramble.
The question now is, where did they go wrong? Did they ask amiss? What could they have done better? They respected Him by calling Him Lord. They called Him by His name. They reminded Him of their relationship and told Him exactly what was going on.
We sometimes find ourselves in similar situations where we feel like we ticked every single box. We did everything we could to get things right; tried to be faithful and to follow every instruction but it still went wrong.
I find myself frustrated when this happens. It is one thing to feel like I could have done better. It’s another thing to feel like it didn’t go well because God just didn’t play His part. This was the case with Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
I can’t imagine the pain that would have gone through Lazarus’ heart seeing the delay on his friend’s part; knowing fully well that He can heal him. For a minute, it looked as though this family was let down by their closest friend.
Worse case scenario happened and Lazarus died. He died because Jesus didn’t help when they needed him to. They lost and death won. This was how it looked.
After 4 days, Jesus Christ came through. One of the parts that gets me in this passage is verses 20-22. When Martha heard that Jesus Christ was coming, she went to meet Him. Despite being broken and the feeling of disappointment, she still went to meet Him. Not allowing pain distort our view of where to get help is key in us gaining victory.
The conversation that went on between her and Jesus Christ was a kind I can relate with. A mixture of hope and disappointment. One thing I love about the bible is that it is the most relatable book you can ever find. Martha didn’t just snap out of it as we hear people tell us today. She didn’t mask her disappointment to Jesus Christ. She kept it real with Him. We should do likewise.
“Lord I feel disappointed that this still didn’t work after giving it my all.
Lord I feel broken because i feel you are delaying.
Lord I feel like this doesn’t align with what we discussed previously.”
In Martha’s case, she said “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died”.
I feel her pain.
“If only you came last week I would have been in a better situation today.”
“God if only you provided the remaining £200 needed to make up my rent, I wouldn’t have been evicted.”
“If only you intervened a minute before, my child wouldn’t have died.”
“If only Lord, if only.”
This is a very difficult place to be in. Because as you are trying to hold on the faith and hope, it seems dashed because you can see the devil taunting you with his victory.
Despite how Martha felt, she renewed her faith in Jesus Christ and made a very profound statement. “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask”. Wow! She is saying, you didn’t show up in time Jesus, but despite that, I know you can still turn this mess around because you have the power to do great things.
The pain of counterfeit victory is felt more when we are being mocked for our faith. As the conversation went deeper with Martha, Jesus wept. There could be many reasons why He did. To be honest as He didn’t say why we can only guess based on what was going on. I love the bible verse that says we do not have a high priest who doesn’t understand our weaknesses.
Jesus Christ feels our pain because He loves us. The emotions He showed here reflects the depth of the love He had for this family. He doesn’t host a dance party when He sees those He loves suffering. He connects with our pain and understands our tears.
As He cried, the people who came to empathize with the bereaved family, shared their own view on how He could have prevented this from happening because everyone knew He could.
Earlier on, I made mention of how Martha expressed mixed emotions here. After expressing her disappointment in Jesus’s timing and her hope in His ability, she now was preventing Jesus from coming in (verse 39). We act like Martha at times don’t we? We invite Him in but we try to prevent Him from seeing the decay He is meant to fix. We want Him to fix it from afar as we hid our carcasses. But for Him fix it, He has to see all of it. We need to expose the smell of the bitterness, addiction, grief, unforgiveness, stubbornness, jealousy, envy, guilt etc that we are hiding.
In all of this, Jesus was gentle with Martha. He knew the heaviness this family was carrying. They just lost a loved one. He didn’t come to rebuke them for unbelief. He didn’t come to lecture them on faith. He allowed them to grieve the way they could as He made an environment for the miracle He was able to perform.
All this while, the devil had the victory. But it was a counterfeit one because the real victory was going to be won. Not later but now. Jesus showed up and did what He does best. He rose Lazarus from the dead and liberated Him.
Tears were dried up!
Hope was restored!
Real victory was won!
You might be feeling like you have lost something but just like in the story above, God’s timing is always the best.
Jesus Christ explained why there was a delay. He needed the people to know that He was sent from God and also He needed the disciples to see that He could raise the dead. This was going to help them in the future. He has been telling them that He was going to die and rise again. Seeing He could do it now, proved He could do what He was saying.
There is purpose in every pain. I pray that God will help us all to always remember that He cares for us more than we can ever know.