Some of the people I look forward to meeting when I get to heaven are the brother and sisters from Bethany. Lazarus, Mary and Martha show up briefly in the New Testament, but what intrigues me most about them is the way Jesus seemed to enjoy their company. I wonder what they were like as a family. They seem so different in personality styles, but somehow they each had a way of making Jesus feel at home among them. They were very confident about how much Jesus loved them. When Lazarus got sick Mary and Martha sent word to Him stating, The one you love is sick. (John 11:3)
The disciples didn't question the reason Jesus did not leave immediately to heal Lazarus from His illness. Jesus explained that the sickness would not end in death. Perhaps they breathed a sigh of relief because Bethany is so close to Jerusalem and the disciples knew that Jesus would be putting His life in danger if He were to go there. But, two days later when Jesus announced they were going to Bethany, the disciples questioned His judgment. He explained to them that Lazarus was dead, so Thomas led the group to be ready to die for Jesus and go with Him.
When Jesus arrived Lazarus had been dead for four days. This meant that by the time the servant brought the news to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, he had already died. Mary stayed in the house when she heard that Jesus was on his way, but Martha got right up and went out to meet Him. Both Mary and Martha made the same comment when they saw Jesus. They stated the truth that if Jesus had been there He could have saved Lazarus from dying.
It doesn't matter what degree you are suffering or in pain today, you and I both know that Jesus could prevent our suffering. Perhaps you are certain of the times that He has kept you from suffering. I have just returned from a mission trip to Cuba. On our long journey across the island, our bus broke down. We prayed together and a truck filled with the belts we needed and all the tools necessary to fix it stopped to help. In about 45 minutes we were on our way and back on schedule. God did that! He prevented any delay which allowed us a nice dinner and site seeing that evening. Just like in the case of Lazarus, often there are times when God allows the suffering we endure. What matters most at these times is the way we see Jesus in our suffering.
Martha sent for Mary at Jesus' request. Mary left the house followed by many of her Jewish friends who came to comfort her. They stood by as Jesus spoke to Mary and cried with her. The comments they made about Jesus challenged me to consider how I see Jesus when I am in pain. In John 11:36 some said; See how he loved him! While others complained Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind have kept this man from dying? (John 11:37)
How do you see Jesus when you are in pain? Do you fully grasp that He loves you? Or are you questioning His love and wisdom? We all have pain and suffering in this life. We have a choice to let our pain create doubt that God is good and question whether He loves us, or it can become an opportunity to sense God in the darkest moments of our lives. Psalm 34:18 says that God is closest to the brokenhearted. What do you believe?