You prayed for things to get better . . . but it’s only getting worse.
You’re wishing for a better tomorrow . . . but instead of brighter days, the forecast only looks darker.
You’re banking on God to show up . . . but your prayers don’t seem to be making a difference.
Ultimately, while you hope for the best case, deep down inside you’re still wondering . . . what if the worst-case happens instead? What if the opposite of what I want is what I get? Point-blank: What if God doesn’t come in time?
Good news for us: Martha gets us.
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 is on Jesus’ Close Friends list. As in, she not only opened up her home to have Jesus over for dinner, but Martha spoke openly with Him too. John 11:5 shows us the feeling was mutual, and Jesus loved Martha, her sister Mary, and her brother Lazarus very much.
So when Lazarus got sick in John 11, she did what we would all do if we too were besties with the One who opened the eyes of the blind, made the deaf hear, and freed the mute to speak. She sent a message straightaway to Jesus, “Lord, Your dear friend is very sick” (John 11:3, NLT). No need to even mention His name, because Jesus will know exactly who she was talking about.
But time dragged by. Hours passed with no word back. She was so confident He would show up . . . but He didn’t. When Lazarus took his last breath and his body went still, Martha still saw no sign of Jesus, His help, or His healing . . . and her heart sank.
Why didn’t He come?
What do we do now?
Important: Even when it looked like the end to Martha, God was not done. Jesus was still up to something, and we know this because we’re privy to His perspective in John 11. We read how He heard the news of His friend’s sickness but stayed back for a couple of days on purpose. Not out of cruelty, but verse 5 shows us out of love.
Unfortunately, we are not given the book of our lives with organized chapters and a clear sequence of events, are we? We can’t simply skim through the suspense and flip the page to our happy ending. Even worse, we can’t pan over to the B-roll footage of Jesus’ vocal response and find relief in the why behind His actions.
But remember: Martha didn’t either. She was living in real-time, praying against the odds, and having faith in Jesus to help her—but now facing the worst-case, Martha shows us three encouraging truths to remember no matter if the worst possible outcome unfolds in our lives too.
1. Help is on the way.
No matter if you deem Him early, on time, or late, the truth remains: Your “help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2, NIV) and since we are “never abandoned by God” (2 Corinthians 4:9, NLT) and “the Lord will not forsake his people” (Psalm 94:14, ESV), like Martha, we too can wait expectantly for our Savior to save.
When Jesus did finally arrive and He takes in the scene of the sisters bawling, other people wailing, and His close friend lying lifeless in the tomb, He wept too (John 11:35)—which goes to show . . .
2. Our God is both sovereign and empathetic.
Just like with Martha, He sees you crying over a cold marriage, a difficult conversation with your kid, or a loved one passing—and He isn’t calloused to your pain, annoyed by your bloodshot eyes, or indifferent to your heartbreak. No, just as grief-stricken—if not more—God cares.
But make no mistake: just because He joined in with Martha’s tears does not take away from the fact that Jesus still knew full well what He was about to do for Lazarus. As our sovereign God who holds all power over life and death, He holds the final word . . . a resurrection was coming.
This same God who reassured His beloved friend then—“Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23, ESV)—is the same God who wants to reassure you that He is still in the business of resurrection.
As Jesus walks over to the tomb and shouts, “Lazarus, come out!” now we begin to understand why this all happened in the first place. Jesus foretold it days ago when He let the disciples in on the plan, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe” (John 11:14-15, NLT).
As we look around at the crowd watching with wide eyes and open mouths, we realize:
3. Maybe it’s less about us and more about others.
While we already belong to the day, there are still neighbors far from Christ, family who have yet to know Him, and friends still living in the darkness. That’s why Paul later wrote with so much urgency: “Time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11, NLT).
As we look around and witness firsthand how “many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen” (John 11:45, NLT), we realize the greater scope of things. Eternities were hanging in the balance, and because of this worst-case scenario, many were saved.
What if God has a grander plan to reach the lost and deepen the faith of those watching your life too?
No matter the reason, hang tight—for now, we see help, empathy, redemption, and purpose are always coming for those in Christ. Jesus is coming to town, and when He does, we’ll see with our own two eyes that it’s not only going to be okay but . . .
P.S. It’s gonna be good (Romans 8:28).
Heidi Lee Anderson
Heidi Lee Anderson is a writer, speaker, and stay-at-home mom. While crafting Instagram devotionals @heidileeanderson and writing kid’s curriculum @thismotherhen and teaching biblical online courses, she’s a master at cleaning up Cheerios spills and building LEGO towers while simultaneously chugging coffee like a Gilmore. Heidi has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Northwestern, MN, and has spent her career doing ministry—from teaching hundreds in kids’ ministry to writing daily devotionals, Bible reading plans, and small group curriculum as a content developer. After being diagnosed with cancer, Heidi’s fuel is now to make sure that Christ-followers realize, know, and claim the sure promises God offers—in the mundane, amid the heartache, and on top of the highest mountains.