If the tabloids, paparazzi and media were following Jesus around today, headlines would read “Jesus Doesn’t Care.” And that’s your cue to gasp! When it comes to media, it’s all about shock headlines, not necessarily the truth. On the surface, in John 11 it may seem as if Jesus did not care when one of His closest friends was deathly ill. But if we dig a little deeper, we can experience that aha moment that scripture has to offer.
Before we jump into John 11, I want to remind us all of Isaiah 55:8-9. This verse really sets the framework of how we should adjust our perspective when we read a headline or a verse that doesn’t quite seem right at face value. It’s also been a huge reminder for me as I look at the condition of our state and continue to pray for our country. I don't like what is happening in our state nor in our country, and it's easy to wonder, "Jesus, do you care?!" The result of the recall effort here in California was a good reminder to lean in and trust even when we don't understand it.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
In John 11 we read about Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus who was dying. When Jesus received the news, it took him a couple days before deciding to visit His friend. However, by the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus passed away. Many people had come to console Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. At face value, it appears as if there was a crisis that Jesus neglected, resulting in a seemingly avoidable death. GASP! To the crowd, clearly Jesus didn't care.
In John 11:21-22, we see Martha’s broken heart for her brother as she confronts Jesus, “If only you’d been here, my brother would not have died … “
Notice, she’s blaming Jesus. In her grief, anger, and disappointment, she is blaming the Lord for being too slow to respond.
We see this sort of raw emotion all throughout the Psalms, especially from King David. And I bet Martha was familiar with the Psalms from attending synagogue––she’d read about David crying out to God in raw disappointment. And when we’re disappointed, the Lord is exactly where we should go! The problem some people come across when they express their raw feelings with God is that they stay in their disappointment. They get bitter and angry and turn away from God. But in this story, take notice of what Martha does next. She acknowledges who she is talking to and what He is capable of. She trusts that even after Lazarus’ death, Jesus can do anything (John 11:22).
I think all of us have felt a prayer request go unheard at some point or another.
“He/she wouldn’t have left if you had been quicker to respond.”
“I wouldn’t have lost my job if you cared more.”
“I wouldn’t be addicted if you’d responded sooner.”
Often, we may feel that His pace is too slow. We urgently ask, “Jesus, don’t you care?” We forget that Jesus doesn’t operate on our time schedule. He has a reason why there’s a delay. You can’t stop trusting because He didn’t meet your deadline. Whenever we put a timeframe to it, we disqualify our trust in Him. When there is a delay, it always comes down to trust. We must trust the pace of Jesus’ walk. As Martha and Mary found out, a delay is not a denial.
As I look at the condition of our state, I am incredibly frustrated. Over 40,000 businesses closed this last year. Over half the homeless population in the entire world resides in California and the funds to help this situation are being misappropriated. More abortions happen in California than in any other place in the world. Drug overdose deaths far outpaced Covid deaths. I could go on and on. We pay the highest amount of taxes, we pay the highest amount for gasoline. The cost of living in California is simply out of control (hence the increased homeless situation). There is a good argument that due to our moving farther and farther away from God we are being judged. There is much scriptural precedent where God judges his people. He allows a leader that does not acknowledge Him or follow any of his principals to be in charge and make it hard for the people. The evil that has existed and increased in California cannot be ignored by God forever. He will judge it and perhaps that time is now.
The reality is, we cannot control this situation but we can pray and ask Jesus to intervene on our behalf. Just as our Lord did for Martha and Mary, perhaps even now, Christ will come and heal our state and nation.
Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds me to keep praying for the people of California and yes, we are to pray for the governor of California. Just as we've seen in scripture time and time again, God can change the hearts of people in an instant.
Martha's desperate and urgent prayer was for her brother to be healed. I believe there is a deep desire in every one of us for “something” to happen in our lives. We all have an urgent prayer. If not now, we will soon.
What is your urgent and perhaps desperate prayer? What I want to encourage you to do today, is write down your urgent prayer. Put words to the raw emotions you’re experiencing. I’d even love to be praying with you if you feel comfortable filling out a prayer request online.
Know this … even when we’re in our darkest time, there’s a light that shines. God will bring good out of a bad situation (Romans 8:28). We can believe and trust that God cares. We must not get tired of doing good (Galatians 6:9).