Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Lessons from Lazarus - Mary Heart / Martha World [Week 8]

There's no easy way to find out how the story ends.
We just have to hang on tight as the plot line unfolds. [pg. 117]

Even though sometimes we want one, there is no crystal ball or predictive test we can take that will tell us how our lives will turn out for the rest of our days.

Some parts of our lives will unfold for us to see in the coming months and years we have to live and other circumstances we face will not be resolved this side of heaven.

The Bible says there are things that even the angels in Heaven do not know - only God Himself.

Although much of life is a mystery, there is clear direction in God's word on His purpose for each of our days - regardless of the season.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him. [Psalm 37:23]
And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  [Romans 8:28]
- emphasis is mine. 

In this chapter, Joanna brings to light one of the strangest stories in the New Testament.

A man dies. This man happens to be the brother of Martha and Mary.

Before he dies, Mary and Martha summon Jesus to come and heal him.

They want nothing more than for Him to preform another great miracle but this time in their own family.

When Jesus gets word of Lazarus' condition, He does not come......He purposely waits.

Neither the sister's desire for Jesus to draw near nor their great faith in Jesus' power could save their brother.

Lazarus died and they had to wait four days for Jesus to arrive.

The greatness of Lazarus' story is not that he was given more life on earth by Jesus, that could have happened through the healing touch of Jesus days before he passed.

The greatness of Lazarus' story is that he died and in his death there was a lesson. There was intention from God to reveal Himself to us.

“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” [John 11:4]

Joanna writes.....

For tucked among the twists and turns of the everyday plot are valuable lessons about who God is and how he works and how we fit into the tale. [pg. 119]

But what about when life REALLY hurts?
When the answer to a prayer is 'no'.....
When the physical healing doesn't come......
When your husband leaves and doesn't return....
And the list goes on for the length of our days.

Kara Tippets poses these painful questions so beautifully when she writes about her loosing battle with cancer.

Imagine if he showed Himself in my hard, which He did, and what if the hard of my story is the beautiful redemption of my today? 
Could the suffering then take on a different hue? 
Could the coloring of the hard not be so dark, so hateful and gloomy?
If our hard is the absence of a good God, then how can anyone walk in faith? 
My hope is not in the absence of suffering and comfort returned. 
My hope is in the presence of the One who promises never to leave or forsake, the One who declares nothing "will be able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39) 
The Hardest Peace ~

We all will face great trial and tragedy in our own way, but those hard parts of life are where the Lord most clearly reveals Himself.

His love for us is great through all circumstances.

His covenant of grace is steadfast - even through the deepest valleys.

But His grace abounds only to those who know Him.

I love Joanna's encouragement to us in this chapter......

If you are struggling to hang on in the midst of your difficult circumstances, let me remind you to go back to what you know about God. Open the Bible and find scriptures to cling to - scriptures that reveal the heart and faithfulness of God. 
Remind yourself that God is your strength. 
That he is the source of your comfort. [pg. 124-125]

What we will find in His word is a God who sent His son, Jesus.

And Jesus understands it all. All the pain and struggle, all the suffering.

This week we are called to get to know this suffering Savior and claim His victory in death for our own lives.

Let's talk about it.....

If you feel led, please comment below about all or just one of these items. We will focus on this chapter all week, so please jump in any day you find time. Also, please feel free to respond to others who have commented, let us encourage each other.

1. Joanna includes a list of verses on pg. 135 to help point us to Jesus' understanding and experience with trials within his own life. Which of these scripture references do you find most comforting?

2. What spoke most to you from this chapter?

I look forward to hearing form you :)

- brook.

* All quotes mentioned above are noted by page number and are taken from 'Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World' by Joanna Weaver.

** Find out more about Joanna's ministry and how to purchase her books here.


  1. There was so much in this chapter. What I saw from this Bible study, of this story of Lazarus, that I had never seen before, was how much Martha had changed. She ran to Jesus in mourning instead of staying in the house, busying herself with work. Then she said, "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." She put her trust in God's plan right then in her brokenness over the death of Lazarus and disappointment that Jesus had not come before Lazarus died. Jesus then spelled out his life's meaning right then to her "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" and she answers "Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." Wow! Jesus reveled so much when she opened herself up to him. She accepted him before he actually gave up his life. How much faith she had! Jesus really didn't talk that straightforward with people about his life, death and resurrection either. He knew she was ready to know the truth and she got it. I don't really know if there was anyone else that got it before he died, before proof. I could be wrong on that, but I know it is significant that she just believed right then and there. Am I open to what God wants for me? Have I read the scriptures and changed? Martha was scolded by Jesus about her busyness and changed. Am I going to have to be scolded or broken before I am open, before I turn to the scriptures? I hope not because I already have the Bible to reference and I know the ending to Jesus' story. What else do I need?

    I know it seems silly that "Jesus wept" is one of the passages that I relate to so much. However, I cry very easily, so this made me feel like it was okay to cry because even Jesus did. This perceived weakness has hindered me in my witness because I always felt stupid because I couldn't control the tears. It was at a funeral that a pastor talked about how Jesus was truly man and grieved for his friend, even though he knows the greatness of heaven.

    On page 125 it says, "We only trust people we know. If you're struggling to trust God, it may be because you don't really know God." The Lord is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, rich in love, good, his love endures forever, faithful, close to the brokenhearted, saves the crushed spirit, my light & salvation, etc. Those are just a few descriptions from Psalms. He is so much greater than we can understand and sometimes his descriptions seem contradictory. However, if we aren't in the Word then we are just taking the world's ideas to heart.

    I loved getting into this story of Lazarus so much because it moved from just a story about a miracle that Jesus performed, but into a story about how we can change like Martha did. Love it!!

  2. Wow, wow, wow. Who am I kidding? - YOU need to be leading this book study, girl!

    I love so many things you wrote here, so many.

    I think my favorite are the questions you ask....
    "Am I open to what God wants for me? Have I read the scriptures and changed? Martha was scolded by Jesus about her busyness and changed. Am I going to have to be scolded or broken before I am open, before I turn to the scriptures? I hope not because I already have the Bible to reference and I know the ending to Jesus' story. What else do I need?"

    After reading about Martha's change, I am no longer with excuse. These are question I need to ask myself daily.

    Thank you for sharing honestly about your insecurities about crying. I know there are others out there - who feel the same. You are one of the most tender and dear hearts I know.

    Love you, Joney.

  3. Thank you my friend!