Waiting for the Answers

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“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”–Jesus, First century A.D., as quoted in John 11:25 NIV

Lazarus was dying. So his sisters, Martha and Mary, sent messengers to their friend Jesus, who had healed many. Surely He would come, and quickly. But Lazarus died shortly after the messengers left, and the grieving sisters buried him, grief mingling with hope. Hadn’t He raised Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son? But He must come soon, for both had been raised the same day they died.

The messengers returned after two days. Surely Jesus was right behind them. Another day passed, and no word from Jesus. Hope dwindled. Where was He? Didn’t He care? Was He hurt? Sick? Perhaps the Pharisees had finally gotten their hands on Him. By the fourth day, Lazarus’ body had begun to decompose. Then someone reported Jesus was on the Bethany road. Martha rushed out to meet Him.

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Was there accusation in her voice?

Hope, though, was not dead, like the cold, hard corpse in the tomb. “But even now, I believe that God will give whatever You ask.”

What a statement of faith! But she faltered when Jesus told her Lazarus would rise again.

“Oh, I know he’ll rise on the last day, on resurrection day, when everyone else rises,” she said.

Jesus shook His head.

“I am the resurrection and the life,” He said. “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

Then the challenge: “Do you believe this?”

We know the rest of the story: How Martha confessed Him as the Messiah, the Son of God, but when Jesus commanded the stone be moved from the tomb’s entrance, protested, “but he’s been dead four days! The body’s begun to stink!”

How much like Martha I am! I profess faith in Jesus, yet hedge when He challenges me to a higher and deeper level of that faith. I call to Him in trouble and wait for Him to answer, first patiently, then, when it seems no answer is forthcoming, wonder where He is when I’m hurting, why He hasn’t answered. After all, hadn’t I professed faith in Him and served Him faithfully?

Don’t we all question God when life is beating us up? A writing colleague fighting a fierce battle with cancer recently wrote, “Faith is living without the answers.”

Maybe all I need to know are the two truths Jesus stated when He told Martha He is the resurrection and the life: The believer’s body may die, but will be resurrected when Jesus returns. Second, and even more important, the believer’s soul will never die, for, once we receive eternal life through faith in Him, we will never be separated from the source of that life, Jesus.

Lord, I’m not a patient person. I want answers to my prayers either now or soon. Remind me that true faith is living without the answers and knowing, for the believer, every day is resurrection day. Amen.