What comes to your mind when you think of these two words?
Maybe it's all of the things you can't see yet. The circumstances that didn't go the way that you'd thought they would. Often times, we have a negative connotation of these two words because we have a hard time embracing promises that seem like they'll never happen. Oh sorry, I forgot. Everything works perfectly in your life. You don't have any uncertainties and aren't waiting for anything from God. It's been a few days since April fool's day, but that would be considered a plain-out LIE!
At least, it would have been a lie for Mary and Martha. Let's take a look at the Bible:
A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this" (John 11:1-4).
Did you see the bold text? The last two sentences from this piece of scripture is a promise. Not just any promise, though. God's Promise.
But like you and me, Mary and Martha didn't see that promise when they thought they should have. The circumstances didn't go the way they had expected. And their connotation of those two words was getting a bit shaky!
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” (V. 5-7).
Wait! Scripture pause. God may not work according to your timing, but that doesn't mean he refuses to love you! All right, back to the Bible.
But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him" (V. 8-15).
Whoa! Now, let me get this straight. Jesus PROMISED that "...Lazarus's sickness will NOT end in death.." (V. 4). And now, he's dead! But let me tell you something.
Jesus never promised Lazarus wouldn't die. He promised that in the end - eventually HE WOULD... Well, let me have the Bible tell the rest of the story:
"...When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask” (V. 17-22).
There it is! There is the doubt. The aggravation. The misunderstanding. I mean think about the last time you said, "Lord, if only you had______!"
Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
“Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (V. 23-26).
What about you? Do you believe that God is going to fulfill his promises in your life, even when you can't see them unfolding? Do you believe the promises, even though the circumstances make no sense? Martha did.
“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” So Mary immediately went to him. Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” (V. 27-40).
What if your empty faith is the only obstacle preventing the revelation of God's Promise?
So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (V. 41-44).
Mary and Martha wanted a healing, but they got a resurrection. They got more than they asked for. They got more than they expected, despite the waiting, doubting, aggravation, and misunderstandings.
God's plan for your life exceeds your expectations.
When we think that God misses an opportunity, he shows us something more - something BETTER! While you are saying, "GOD WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" God is saying, "PREPARE TO BE AMAZED!"
So instead of worrying and making "If only..." statements, get out the ice-cream and make a chocolate cake! It won't be long until you're celebrating! Prepare to be blown away by God's Promises!