Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“So the sisters (Mary and Martha) sent to Him (Jesus), saying ‘Lord, he whom You love [so well] is sick.’”
John 11: 3
“Christ is the ocean, in which every drop is infinite compassion. He is the mountain towering above the mountains, in which every grain is God’s own goodness.”
Thoughts for Consideration:
When something confusing, painful or tragic strikes my life, to whom do I turn first?
What does Mary and Martha’s reaction to their brother’s illness teach me?
“Love refuseth nothing that love sends.”
“When we are in trouble or despair or have lost hope, we should do what David did, pour out our hearts to God and tell Him of our needs and troubles, just as they are.”
Hesychios of Sinai
Whenever I find that the way seems rough and the path is rocky and my shoes don’t appear strong enough to get me from one step to another, I take some time to visit my friend David, the Psalmist who penned some of the most honest words in Scripture. Verse after verse in the Psalms reflect a man who, when trials struck without warning, went to his heavenly Father first and poured out his heart. Take for example Psalm 17, “O Lord; listen to my shrill, piercing cry! Give ear to my prayer…I have called upon You, O God, for You will hear me; incline Your ear to me” (Psalm 17: 1, 6 Amplified Bible). The fact is that when David found himself hemmed in by the perplexities and disasters of life, he went directly to his heavenly Father and poured out his every need.
The Old Testament record of David is duplicated in the New Testament story of the illness of Lazarus. The Bible tells us that upon seeing the critical situation their brother was in, Mary and Martha did what came natural, “The sisters sent word to Jesus.” (John 11: 3). As Matthew Henry clearly points out: “Mary and Martha showed their love for (Lazarus)…and the regard they had to the Lord Jesus, whom they were willing to make acquainted with all their concerns. The sisters first thought appears to be, ‘We must get a message to Jesus.’ And so, knowing Jesus was a fair distance from their home in Bethany, they hastily sent these words: ‘Lord, the one You love is sick.’
I like the additional thoughts shared by Matthew Henry in his commentary on this passage: “Though God knows all our wants, and griefs, and cares, He will know them from us, and is honored by our laying them before Him. The message they sent was very short, not petitioning, much less prescribing or pressing but barely relating the case with the tender insinuation of a powerful plea, ‘Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.’ They do not say, “He whom we love,’ but ‘He whom Thou lovest.’ Our greatest encouragements in prayer are (received) from God Himself and from His grace. They do not say, ‘Lord, behold, he who loveth Thee, but he whom Thou lovest; for herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.’”
What a beautiful thought to know that Jesus loves us so much that when we fall into the pit of ill health or despair or financial catastrophe, and we call upon Him, He responds from a heart full of love – not based on our perfect love toward Him, but His eternally perfect love toward each of us.
What a testimony is borne out of the love of Jesus shown to Bethany’s home. Jesus’ love had so transformed the occupants of this residence that when tragedy struck, the first thing that came to the sisters’ minds was that Jesus would want to know what burdened their hearts. But furthermore, because their brother was such a dear friend of Jesus, it was as if they knew, without a doubt, that He would absolutely want to know that the one He dearly loved was ill. No one narrates this story with such tremendous thoughtfulness as my favorite J. R. Macduff:
“The terrible possibility flashed through the minds of the sisters, of a desolate home…the joyous dream of restoration became fainter and fainter. Human remedies (appeared) hopeless. There was ‘One’ and only ‘One,’ in the wide world who could save from impending death. His word, they knew, could alone summon luster to ‘Lazarus’ eye.’ Fifty long miles intervened between the great Physician and their cottage home. They cannot hesitate…If only (they) reach Him in time, they know that no more is needed.”
How these words should encourage our hearts in moments of overwhelming grief and confusion when we don’t know what to do. As J.R. Macduff instructs us, ‘Would that we valued, more than we do, this blessed link of communication between our souls and Heaven! More especially in our seasons of trouble, when ‘vain is the help of man,’ happy for us to be able implicitly to rest in the ability and willingness of a gracious Redeemer. Prayer brings the soul near to Jesus, and (calls) Jesus near to the soul!...How comforting to have put our case and all its perplexities in His hand saying, ‘I am oppressed; undertake Thou for me! To Thee I unburden my sorrows…Do to me as seemeth good in Thy sight. He or she whom Thou lovest is sick; the Lazarus of my earthly hopes and affections is hovering on the brink of death…It is my privilege to confide my trouble to Thee.’”
Several months ago, my sister called me from the hospital where she works as Head of Education in Obstetrics. She happened to be off work on this particular day and instead was sitting with a close friend whose husband was in the Intensive Care Unit in extremely critical condition. Before my sister left the hospital, she asked her friend, “would you like me to call my sister at Transformation Garden?”
Her friend noted that it was the weekend and thankfully Sher said, “I’ll call anyway.” As soon as She let me know the need, I called my dear Pat who faithfully takes care of getting prayer needs out around the world. I shared the prayer request and within 15 minutes, our Prayer Team was in action. At that moment in time, I know for a fact, that the doctors offered little hope to the family. But several weeks later, what the doctors thought was impossible, took place. “The patient” was able to go home. My faith is strong enough to believe that when we tell Jesus, He will act in the way He knows will always be best!
One of my favorite Scottish theologians, John Baillie makes this wonderful point in reference to trusting our Savior in all of life’s difficulties – “(Jesus) lays upon us no other burden than that of putting our whole trust in Him.” And that is exactly what Mary and Martha did when they sent a message to Jesus, “The one You love is sick.” Or just maybe, that message could have been “The one You love needs You. Or the one You love is lonely. Or the one You love is lost.” Whatever the need of your heart today “Go Tell Jesus!”
There is a story told by Elisha A. Huffman, who wrote the lyrics to the favorite hymn, “I Must Tell Jesus,” about a woman whose life had been filled with great “sorrow and affliction.” As he shares: “Coming to her home one day, I found her much discouraged. She unburdened her heart, concluding with the question, ‘Brother Hoffman, what shall I do?’ I quoted from the Word, then added, ‘You cannot do better than to take all of your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus.’ For a moment she seemed lost in meditation. Then her eyes lighted up as she exclaimed, ‘Yes, I must tell Jesus.’ As I left her home I had a vision of that joy-illuminated face…and I heard all along my pathway the echo, ‘I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus.’”
Upon reaching home, Hoffman penned these beautiful words”
I Must Tell Jesus
“I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone,
In my distress He kindly will help me,
He ever loves and cares for His own.
I must tell Jesus all of my troubles;
He is a kind, compassionate Friend;
If I but ask Him, He will deliver,
Makes of my troubles quickly an end.
Tempted and tried, I need a great Savior;
One Who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus,
He all my cares and sorrows will share.
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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