Faith Walking through Challenging times

Some days are just made for steady walking.  No great
outward progress, but just a determination to walk in faith with what you know
is true, right and just.  This is especially true when you are praying
for, waiting for--even longing for some outward change.  It is sometimes
difficult to "keep the faith" during the silent times.  

 

As we read through the Bible we encounter many people who
had to have faith during the waiting time.  Mary and Martha waited
anxiously for Jesus to return when Lazarus was ill.  I can only imagine as
they nursed him, watching him grow weaker looking out the window, is he coming?
Why isn't he here yet?  We don't hear of a messenger send words of
hope or regret from Jesus.  Just silence.  I wonder if Mary and
Martha reminded themselves of Jesus other miracles, re-assuring each other that
surely he would arrive soon.  After all, in their message they said,
"Lord, your dear friend is
very sick". John 11; 3.  
But, alas, he didn't arrive.
Lazarus died.  They had to face reality.  He was dead.  

 

Mary and Martha went about the burial preparations.  I
wonder if they did it slowly, giving Jesus a chance to show up.  Preparing
the spices, wrapping the body, maybe even preparing the tomb to receive the
body were all mandatory duties had to be done for Lazarus to be buried.  The widow of Nain was on her way to bury her
son, when she encountered Jesus and He raised her son to life again!    But again, no sign of Jesus.
According to the custom of the day, they still needed bury him on the day
he died.  

 

Friends and relatives were there to grieve with the sisters.
Day two, no Jesus.  Plenty of time to mourn and think, where is he?
Do you think they might have even entertained thoughts such as “we fed
them a lot”, “I thought he loved us” etc. 
By then, perhaps they had begun to accept the fact their brother was
gone.  Day Four arrives and Martha got word that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. John 11:20.

 

The focus here isn't about the raising of Lazarus
necessarily, but to help us learn how to stay faith filled during difficult,
silent times.  Martha declares her trust and faith in Jesus. She states
what she knows.  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."
   Jesus told
her, your brother will rise again.  Yes, Martha said, he will rise when
everyone else rises, at the last day. "  

It is important that during emotional times we begin to
speak the truth of what we do know not focus on the mysteries of what we don't
know.  Even simple declarations of: God, I know you love me, even in the
midst of this situation.  Or I thank you for loving me through this.
I trust you to bring me through.  One of my go to prayers is
"Lord, you know how extremely difficult this is, I ask that you get every
good thing you can out of it! (Referencing Romans 8:28).

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."  
She was honest in her response.
This is the Mary that sat at his feet to learn from Him, instead of
serving with Martha.  Perhaps it was those things she learned at His feet
that kept her trusting Him.  Both sisters could have "gone
bitter" during his absence, but they did not go there.  We need to
guard our hearts and keep trusting His character.

 

Many times it may not be us experiencing direct grief or
loss, but it may be our friends or family members.  This story does not
share their stories, but it is hard to know how to support others during their
difficult times.  They did the right thing, they showed up!  Never
underestimate the power of showing up, it speaks volumes--gives hope, shows
your care and helps bring stability.  Leave your unanswered questions at
home, just show up and love your friends.  I hope none of Martha and
Mary's friends spent time discussing the fact Jesus hadn't shown up earlier!

Walking in faith means we need to acknowledge our feelings,
but not let them rule our spirit.  Grief and loss are extremely
challenging times to put this into practice.  We can take comfort with
Jesus words to Martha.  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?
John 11:25  

 

Challenging times often bring us to the place we must answer
that question, "Do you believe this....".  If we discover the
answer is, I am not sure.  Don't be condemned.  Take it as an
opportunity to learn more about Him and His thoughts in whatever area you are
facing.  The teacher will come.

 

 

What joy erupted when
Jesus spoke those words, "Lazarus, Come forth!".  No matter what
we go through, there is life afterward. 
God promises are true and faithful. 
We can trust Him during the quiet times. 
Psalm 23::4 declares, even when I walk through the darkest
valley, I will not be afraid for you are close beside me.  Your rod and
your staff comfort and protect me.

Father, please help us
trust you and walk in faith during challenging and difficult times.  Thank
you for being close to those who are grieving and feeling hopeless for any
reason.  Encourage their hearts to choose to trust that you will reveal
yourself at the right time.  Thank you that we do not have to walk in fear
in our darkest valley, for you are with us.

In Jesus Name, Amen