Have you ever prayed and your prayer didn't get answered? Have you ever fervently prayed; I mean really wrestled with a situation and really just begged and pleaded God for something and He didn't give it to you? In that moment when we feel like even God doesn't hear us, How do we react? Do we get angry with God, Do we question God? Do we turn from Him?
I am part of a small men's bible study and we meet on Wednesday mornings. Yesterday morning we were in The Gospel of John Chapter 11. It is a very familiar story of Jesus raising his friend Lazurus from the dead when a couple of things struck me about the story. I have heard this story countless times, but one element of this story really stuck with me yesterday morning and has been weighing on me heavily for 2 days. For those unfamiliar withe the story Jesus is sent a message that his friend Lazarus is very sick, but he does not go to him Immediately in fact He waits several days before making His way to see Lazarus. Full Passage
By the time Jesus made it Lazarus had been dead and buried for several days. Now Lazarus had 2 sisters Mary & Martha and both of them believed strongly in Jesus and both of them prayed He would come and heal their brother and both of them agonized of their brothers passing. Even though Jesus did not answer their prayers and did not arrive in time to heal their brother their reactions are remarkable.
"Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Wow! Jesus had just let her down; He had just disappointed her and her reaction is to still praise Him. How awesome is that. What was her Sister's reaction?
32 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.”Mary was clearly upset and didn't understand, yet still she worshiped and still she believed; again remarkable.
What neither of them realized at the time is that while Jesus didn't answer their prayers and He did not arrive on time to heal their brother what was about to happen was going to quite literally change the course of history.
Jesus had done other Miracles prior to this, but this was a very public display of Power. Jesus looked into Lazarus' tomb and called him back to life! There was a crowd who saw this and the story spread like wild fire. This one event caused thousands to line the streets of Jerusalem with palm branches and praise Jesus just a short while later. This same event caused the religious leaders of the day to become so concerned with the peace and stability of the land that they began to plot Jesus' death.
It was a very short time later that Jesus laid down his own life and once again defeated death by rising from the grave.
You see my point here is this; Jesus did not answer Mary and Martha's prayers even though they believed in Him and even though they were selfless, fervent prayers. Instead Jesus had another plan. and His plan proved greater for Mary, Martha, Lazarus, you and me.
Next time I hit my knees and pray and Jesus seems to not answer my prayers I need to remember to react like Mary and Martha and continue to worship Him. I also need to remember the end of the story and remember that He is sovereign through it all and that his plan may be greater and more glorious than anything I could possibly imagine.