“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’”
Jesus was very close to the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, three siblings. When Lazarus fell ill, the two sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When Jesus received this word, he replied to his disciples in verse four: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” While the disciples and Jesus knew that Lazarus’ sickness would not result in death, Mary and Martha did not.
Imagine the fear and concern the two sisters must have felt. Doing their best to take care of their brother, they called for Jesus to come heal him. Then they were made to wait for days without word or sight of the Savior. Can you put yourself in their shoes and imagine what Jesus’ silence must have felt like? Do you think their grief and fear only became stronger with each hour that passed that Jesus did not respond and left them feeling abandoned?
God’s silence is never easy to accept. In a world of instant gratification, we put our own expectations on God, and want him to respond to us immediately. When we are hurting or afraid, we want him to respond to our prayers and take action in that very moment. We don’t want to be patient or wait to see God respond, very similarly to Martha and Mary.
Yet, God’s silence isn’t simply his lack of attention or response. Instead, like Jesus taking his time to come to Lazarus’ bedside, God often has a plan much larger than we can foresee. Jesus’ delayed response to Martha and Mary wasn’t out of spite or even laziness, but it was so that all could see and witness something much greater than Jesus healing another infirmity. It was so they could witness him raising Lazarus from the grave!
Silence teaches us a greater lesson of trust than we may feel comfortable with. It teaches us a lesson of faith as we wait to see what God will do. Do you think that Mary and Martha’s faith wavered when Jesus did not immediately heal Lazarus? On the contrary, Martha says to Jesus in verse 27 that she believed that Jesus was the Christ. When Jesus finally did come, he demonstrated his almighty power to Martha, Mary, and all of those around as they witnessed the true miracle, Lazarus coming back to life.
Whenever you feel that God is not listening, or that he is holding out in silence from you, remember the story of Lazarus. Remember that while you may have tunnel vision and want an answer immediately, God knows everything and will not remain silent forever. Keep praying and keep waiting to see what he will do.
Accepting your silence is never easy, but please help me to learn to grow in my trust and even deeper in my faith. Help me to know that when the timing is right you will respond, and that I am never alone.
In Jesus’ Name,