Signposts: Daily Devotions

Friday, February 6

Though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
—John 10:5-6

This is a very unusual and difficult passage of Scripture. I am taking it out of context (a dangerous thing to do and something we should all guard against) simply because the gospel story in which it is found is very long—44 verses.  In the story, Jesus eventually goes to Lazarus, finds him dead and buried, and then resuscitates him. It is a dramatic story with some troubling aspects.

“The problem with miracles,” Barbara Brown Taylor writes in a sermon of the same title,

is that it is hard to witness one without wanting one of your own. Every one of us knows someone who is suffering. Every one of us knows someone who could use a miracle, but miracles are hard to come by. Not everyone who prays for one gets one, not by a long shot, and meanwhile there are people who get them without asking for them at all. On the whole, religious people cannot stand this kind of randomness, so we spend a lot of time trying to figure out the formula.

Taylor reminds us that miracles are not something we can control.  “Faith does not create miracles,” she writes. “God does.”

In this Lazarus story, there is a miracle—a dead person is brought back to life (resuscitated, as opposed to resurrected). But there is a considerable delay between the request for Jesus’ presence and Jesus’ actually showing up. What this says to me, although I don’t like to hear it, is that God comes in God’s time, not according to my schedule.  It is frustrating and upsetting.  But God does come, and that is what matters.

Help us, O God, to remember that you are God, and we are not. Grant us wisdom in our waiting and patience in our suffering, and peace as we wait. Amen.