You had faith God could do it.
You waited for Him to show up, but . . .
Things only got worse.
He didn’t come in time (and maybe, He still hasn’t).
What do we do when we’ve held on in hope, but the opposite of what we want happens? When a family member passes away even though we prayed for a full recovery? The anxiety is still an everyday burden no matter how much we’ve prayed for freedom? A friendship fell apart, the accruing debt feels never ending, or we’re still swiping through Tinder looking for Mr. Right (at this point, even Mr. Mostly Right)—all the while, God has yet to make an appearance?
How do we recover when the rug’s been pulled out from under us and it feels like God let us down?
How do we get back on our feet when we can’t find His hand to pull us back up?
What do we do when the worst-case happens and we’re reeling in the aftermath of disappointment—in our God, in the seemingly “unanswered” prayer, and in (what we feel is) His bad timing and lack of protection?
We know He could’ve done something because He can do anything.
So then . . . why didn’t He?
Although she appears to be a Debbie Downer, buzzkill, and party pooper whenever she enters the spotlight in the New Testament, it’s my pleasure to introduce to you the most relatable woman in the entire Bible: my girl, Martha.
In very much the same tone as Buddy the Elf overhearing someone mention Santa, Martha has every right to shout “I KNOW HIM” whenever anyone name-drops Jesus. Because she does know Him—more than just Facebook friends, Martha’s handle lands on Jesus’ Close Friends list. Not only did she open up her home to have Jesus over for dinner multiple times, but Scripture clues us in that Martha spoke openly with Him too. Furthermore, John 11:5 shows us the feeling was mutual, and Jesus loved Martha, her sister Mary, and brother Lazarus very much.
Jump into the scene of John 11 though, and we don’t see these three raising their glasses at yet another dinner party. Rather, Lazarus is sick. The mood in the air is somber. The prognosis is not looking good, and these sisters watch on helplessly as their brother seems to be getting worse by the hour.
Pause. Put yourself in Martha’s shoes. If you were close friends with the One who calmed storms, gave sight to the blind, and brought hearing to the deaf, what would you do? Send out an SOS, of course. And this is exactly what Martha does. She scrambles to send out a message flagged with high importance, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick” (John 11:3, nlt). No need to even mention Lazarus’s name, because Jesus will know exactly who she’s talking about.
And then, she waits . . . crickets.
Hours drag by with no word back.
She is so confident He will show up . . . but He doesn’t.
When Lazarus takes his last breath and Martha watches her brother go still, her heart sinks.
Why didn’t He come?
What do I do now?
How am I supposed to rebound from this?
Maybe you’ve thought the same things. When a friend broke your trust, it left you stunned and wondering why God let that happen. In the waves of a job loss, you’ve asked, “Why didn’t God come through?” As you’re surveying the emotional aftermath of the diagnosis, maybe you’re still asking, “What do I do now?” In the curveballs of life, you’re shaking your head, wanting to know, “How can I recover from a blow this bad?”
Martha not only gets us, but as we follow in her footsteps to meet up with Jesus, we see three truths we can cling to as we’re standing in the hard today looking for hope tomorrow:
- God sees.
As Martha’s drumming her fingers, unable to see Jesus when she needed Him most, we’re privy today to hold the book of John in our hands and know exactly where He was. Swing over to Jesus’ POV, and we see He not only received Martha’s message in a timely fashion, but stayed back where He was for a couple of days longer on purpose. He explains to His disciples: “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 11:4, nlt).
This shows us that even when we’re looking around at the circumstances of our lives and it appears that God is nowhere to be found in our darkest hour, we can keep waiting expectantly like Martha. Since Jesus considers us His friends (John 15:15) and He watches over every detail of our lives too (Psalm 121:7)—if He still has yet to make a visible appearance—we can trust He has His reasons . . . and because He’s only good, they can only be good.
- He doesn’t like it either.
When Jesus finally does come to town, and He takes in the scene of the sisters crying and His friend in a tomb, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35, nlt).
The same goes for you. He sees you crying over your period when you were hoping for a positive pregnancy test instead. He sees you up all night, soaking your pillow with tears, heartbroken over your cold marriage or wayward child. He sees you bawling over your finances, an abandoned friendship, or hard diagnosis—and He doesn’t take it lightly either.
He isn’t calloused to your grief, annoyed by your breakdown, or indifferent to your disappointment. No, God cares and wishes sin, death, and brokenness weren’t part of the picture either—for that’s exactly why He sent His Son to conquer it, with sure plans to abolish it forevermore.
- He still has a plan.
Jesus is both our sympathetic High Priest (Hebrews 4:15) and our sovereign God. So even while Jesus wept with Martha, He still knew full well what He was going to do for Lazarus—and He knows exactly what He’s going to do with your situation too.
As Jesus arrives at the tomb, we hear Him give the order, “Roll the stone aside,” and turning to Martha, He says, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” (John 11:39, 40, nlt). That’s when Jesus tells His buddy to come on out, and behold many eyewitnesses, Lazarus indeed walks out, “hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth” (John 11:44, nlt).
As you now stand facing the grave of what should’ve been, don’t forget the One who is standing right next to you. He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), and for those who believe, we too will see the glory of God prevail.
In the meantime, as you’re sitting in the questions of life, remember Martha’s story and wait expectantly. Help is on the way, and it’s not only going to be okay . . . but in Christ, it’s gonna be good.
Grab Heidi Lee Anderson’s book, P.S. It’s Gonna Be Good, here.
Heidi Lee Anderson is a writer, speaker, and stay-at-home mom. While crafting
Instagram devotionals @heidileeanderson and @thismotherhen, she’s a master
at cleaning up Cheerio spills and building Lego towers while simultaneously
chugging coffee like a Gilmore. After being diagnosed with cancer, Heidi’s fuel is
to make sure Christ-followers realize, know, and claim the sure promises God
offers—in the mundane, amidst the heartache, and on top of the highest