If Only… That is how Martha greets Jesus when he arrives. If only you had been here our brother would not have died. How often in our lives do we become frustrated, even upset with God when he doesn’t do things our way? We are certain that we know the best action to take, the best plan that will lead to what we believe to be the best outcome. When things don’t go the way we planned, we can begin to ponder what if we had done something different, what if we had been there, what if we had prayed more, and so on.
The challenge is that as God said through the prophet Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” Martha had faith in Jesus’ ability to heal, and in her mind she had a plan. The problem was, it was her plan. Sometimes God has something far better in mind. The other part of God’s plan is that His time in not always our time. We can be in such a hurry, but God sometimes knows we need to wait a bit, to prepare for what he has in store for us.
When I was working for Catholic Charities, I worked with a woman that had been jailed for public intoxication. A minor infraction. The problem was she was not able to post bail. As a result, she sat in the jail for three months until we were able to get her placed in treatment. On one hand a real injustice, a waste of taxpayer money. But, had she gotten out right away, she would have continued in her self-destructive behavior. She credits the time in jail, time she had to stay clean, where she was able to go to Bible study and church because she was sober, as being the reason she is a faithful person today who is still sober and now helping others.
In Martha’s case, Jesus could have come sooner or even healed her brother from a distance, but had he done that he could not have performed the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. A miracle demonstrating to all his power over death, and His ability to raise us all to eternal life. We need to learn to trust in God and believe what he has in store for us is far greater than anything we can imagine.
Deacon Phil Paladino