Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Want to Be Like Mary

Are you familiar with the story in John 11 when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead?

I used to summarize it this way: Jesus receives word that his friend Lazarus is very sick. Lazarus’ sisters want Jesus to come to see him, but Jesus waits two more days before heading their way. When He finally arrives, Lazarus has been dead for days and his sisters are distraught. But Jesus, knowing the plan all along, brings Lazarus back to life…all for the glory of God.

Obviously, that’s a crude, in-a-nutshell, summary of the foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

But yesterday morning, I realized there’s so much more to the story.
So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” John 11:5-7 NLT
Although Jesus loved them, He allowed them to walk through this time of grief and loss.

Not because He wanted to be mean, but because there was a purpose.

Although Jesus loves us, He allows us to walk through particular storms in life.

“Because there’s a purpose” is hard to swallow much of the time, especially if you are the one living in pain, sorrow, depression, loneliness, or some other trial. Believe me, I know.

Martha and Mary wouldn’t fully see the purpose until they saw Lazarus walk out of the tomb.

Like them, whatever the purpose may be in our trials often can’t be seen until we’ve made it to the other side. And sometimes, we may never see it if God was working it to reach someone else.

I particularly wonder about Mary and what she was thinking and feeling. Jesus was a close friend. She was drawn to Him and had sat at His feet listening and learning from Him when women weren’t encouraged to do that. (Luke 10:38-42) In her grief and deep loss at her brother’s death, I wonder if she might also have felt abandoned, not knowing why Jesus hadn’t come.

Perhaps she even asked the same question I’ve asked before…Where are you, Jesus?!? Why aren’t you here with me?
…she [Martha] went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:28-29, 32 ESV
Mary was distraught and desperate to see Jesus. I can relate—I’ve been there. You too?

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:33-35 ESV
Jesus wept.

Jesus, who allowed Lazarus’ family to go through the grief of his death, was greatly troubled. Having compassion for His friends and the pain they felt, feeling angry at the state of sin in the world, and knowing the joy that was to come…Jesus was deeply moved—to the point of tears. Jesus wept.

Jesus never left Mary in her sorrow. He was right there with her—just as He is with us in our sorrow and struggles.

The sin in the world today, compassion for our suffering, and knowing the joy to come…Jesus is moved and troubled, maybe still to the point of tears.

Mary and Martha had to walk through the grief before they could they see the resurrection of Lazarus.

They had to walk through the storm to see the miracle.

And we do too. We can’t get to the mountaintop without walking through the valley.

The Book of John doesn’t describe the reactions when Lazarus walked out of the tomb after being dead for four days. We can only imagine the overwhelming awe and emotion they must have felt.

For Mary, who had sat at the feet of Jesus, her faith in Him had to have grown to level deeper than she could have dreamed—to a level deeper than she could explain to anyone else.

I want to be like Mary.

I want to sit at the feet of Jesus studying His Word.

I want unshakable trust in Him, even when I can’t see or hear Him, because I know He’s always with me. 

I want to know that as I walk through the hardest times of my life, He walks with me…and at the other side He’ll show me the miracle.

I want to be like Mary.

In Christ,

[Photo credit 1: Stock photo: Dolmen / Photo credit 2: Stock photo: rain / Photo credit 3: Stock photo: Sad & Lonely]


  1. You've written a very-well-thought-out post, and the subject is of somewhat intense interest to me, because I'm terminally ill. Pain is pretty grotesque, and some of the symptoms have become very difficult to navigate.

    My feeling about there being a purpose is a bit different in a couple of respects. From personal experience, I know it's possible to go well past the point where God "grows one's character". This has become something of a lynching; if God's behind it, it's been overdone.

    But I don't believe that I'm hurting 'for a purpose', beyond the simple fact of a Creation that has to admit free will to be worthwhile. When free will's included, by induction we have to accept random illnesses and horrible things perpetrated by others, along with assorted natural disasters.

    My feeling is that God positively hates what these things do to us...but He's always at our side, helping us to faith them with honour and a stiff upper lip. The one thing He cannot do is to override the 'free will of creation' on a case-by-case basis, because that would be tantamount to making of Himself a Greek or Roman deity, to be appeased in some way in return for blessings or deliverance.

    This might be seen as suggesting that there are no grounds for believing in the miraculous, but this may not be a necessary admission. If miracles are seen as occurring in the context of something greater, a larger overall plan, then the effect on any individual moves from favouritism to something of a collateral blessing. Being in the right place at the right time, as it were.

    One possibilty that gives me comfort is that there are a finite number of bits of personal mayhem floating around out there, and God guides them to the shoulders that can bear them. I would far prefer this affliction hit me than it hit ANYONE else. I've been described as a hard man; certainly I am harder than this packet of misery, and I will prevail with soul and spirit intact.

    I may just be chopping logic here, looking to make it more palatable for me, personally. I'll readily admit to that, if needs must.

    Oh...I suspect part of the reason that Jesus delayed was that according to Jewish custom at the time, the soul was supposed to reside in the body for three days after death; thus, a resurrection after that point would have been simply staggering. before that period, while it would have amazed some, the Pharisees would have been able to explain it away. I am not completely sure of this, but have read of it, as a hypothesis.

    Please don't take any of this as a criticism of your lovely, haunting post. I see things differently, and my view is one that has been formed under duress. As I said, I may be completely and utterly wrong!

    And I am here from The Weekend Brew.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear of the pain and illness you are living with! I have a loved one struggling through constant pain and I am reminded daily of how different our opinions, attitudes, views, and emotions are, depending on what we are dealing with, and from where we are dealing with it.

      I think I’ve also read about the Jewish custom and agree that the miracle might have been explained away if so many days hadn’t passed. It was necessary for Jesus to wait. But I guess I’d never thought before about the emotional side. Jesus grieved with His friends and He was angry at what sin does to us. His compassion for them reminded me of His compassion for us. It was one of those times when I sat down to read Scripture for a few minutes and it took hold of me and didn’t let go.

      Thank you again for reading and for your comment!

  2. I have not had to walk through physical pain, but emotional pain and financial stress can take it's toll on me, and I often question God's purpose in leaving me to dwell in the valley so long. I know He's working all things for my good, but sometimes I wonder if I will truly see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living? I so want a breakthrough, yet am thankful and believe that God is with me in the midst of it. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post at The Weekend Brew.

    1. Barbie, I know you have been walking this road for a long time, and I've been praying for you. Thank you for sharing here.

  3. This is beautiful, Laura! I want to be like Mary, too.

    I can relate deeply to what you have shared here. I lost a young aunt to a battle with cancer. While it was the most painful thing I have ever endured, nothing has grown my faith like it.

    Blessings to you and yours. (Visiting from Jolene Underwood)

    1. Thank you Heather. Indeed, it's often in the hardest times that we grow the most. God bless!

  4. May we have the faith of Mary and the hunger to seek Him and His Word. Thank you for the beautiful post. Linked up with you at Playdates with God -- hope you'll stop by for a visit!
    God bless,

    1. Thank you Laurie! I enjoyed visiting your blog :)

  5. Thank you so very much for this post, and for linking it with Grace & Truth! Another caveat to the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is that old Jewish thoughts were that a person's spirit stayed with their body for 3 days before leaving so technically they thought a person could easily come back to life within 2 days of their death (this is also significant when looking at Jesus' resurrection) so the fact that Jesus waited until after that time to come and raise Him is majorly significant -- by that time they had lost all hope of Lazarus living again and He showed His power even more great. This is an awesome post, I will be featuring it on this Friday's Grace & Truth link-up. Make sure you come by for your "I've Been Featured" button at that time ;)

    1. Thank you Holly, both for your comment and for choosing to feature my post!

      Yes, I neglected to add the importance of the Jewish custom in the number of days Jesus waited. I think I was caught up in seeing the emotional side and trying to express it, and forgot to add it. But it reminds me of how when I think God comes through in the 11th's really His perfect timing. (I'm praying for some of that perfect timing right now!)

      I'll be by on Friday. God bless!

  6. Laura, So glad I visited from GiveMeGrace. Truly beautiful thoughts and insight on tough times in life.

  7. Your insights into this familiar portion of scripture have captured me.

  8. Praise God for His perfect will and timing! Your insight has tugged at my heart and encouraged me. Thank you for your insight and sharing your thoughts as the Spirit revealed these new Truths to you. I am so blessed by your words today, Laura.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts!