Mary is famous for anointing Jesus before burial and sitting at his feet. Martha is famous for wanting Jesus to rebuke her sister for not helping out around the house. But now, in the face of her brother’s death, John records the moment in which Martha’s faith breaks new ground. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21). Like she has before, she starts their conversation with a grievance. This time, however, it rises from desperate grief. She wants to believe that Jesus can still make this right: “I know that God will give you whatever you ask” (v. 22).
Martha knows Jesus better than most people. She’s hosted him in her home, talked with him, listened to him teach. She’s heard of and possibly seen numerous miracles. She believes in Jesus and who he is, but she has never seen a resurrection in real time. She does not know what is possible in the present. Her hope rests in the future, but Jesus tells her that her hope can begin now. “I am the resurrection and the life,” he says (v. 25).
I’m a lot like Martha. I know God is capable of saving a life, renewing a marriage, or restoring a family. But though I may want an outcome, sometimes desperately, I am hesitant to ask for it. Very rarely will I let myself truly hope for it. Disappointment can be so brutal. I will confess extraordinary things about God, but I shy away from hope. Seeing myself in Martha, I’m inspired to lean on the extraordinary things I’ve already seen and risk living with a hope that I would normally be timid to embrace.
When have you been hesitant to live with hope for the present? What have you missed out on because you were afraid of being disappointed?
Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief. Amen.