“Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."” (John 11:25-27)
We can look at Martha’s statement and marvel at her faith. She had such right doctrine. She believed Jesus could raise Lazarus. But it’s interesting to see that later, when the time came for Jesus to raise Lazarus, her “faith” was exposed for what it was - mere head-knowledge:
“Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days."” (John 11:38-39 )
When the time comes to Jesus to display the power that Martha said she believed Him for, she wavers. It is in this moment that her beliefs are really put to the test. It’s one thing to hold a belief with our minds, but it’s another thing entirely to hold it deep in our hearts. And what this episode shows is that it is the trials that the Lord allows into our lives which reveal the genuineness of our faith (1 Peter 1:6-8).
Martha’s right doctrine was revealed to be mere head knowledge by this moment of difficulty. But we should not look down on her. We can be this way, too.
The Lord assures us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and we say, “Lord I believe that.” Then He leads us to a moment of isolation, and we say, “but Lord, it’s so lonely here.” Or He tells us, “I will never let you be tempted beyond your ability,” and we say, “Lord, I believe that.” Then He leads us back into that difficult circumstance, with that difficult coworker or child, and we say, “but Lord, this is too much.”
We need to see that the Lord MUST bring us to the difficulty to demonstrate His power! We don’t get to see His power on the calm seas, but rather in the midst of the storm. The power that we say we believe is most often manifested in the midst of a great difficulty. In fact, we are hard pressed to find an example of Jesus’s power that isn’t revealed by some difficult circumstance: turning the water into wine, feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, calming the sea, casting out demons, forgiving His enemies, etc. The one thing all of these manifestations of Christ’s power have in common is that they were His loving responses to some difficult circumstance.
It says BECAUSE the Lord loved Mary and Martha, He waited longer (John 11:5-6). Jesus’ ultimate desire was to reveal His love to them, and therefore He chose to wait until the situation looked impossible, so that His power and love might be fully revealed.
We have to get the idea out of our heads that God’s love for us is demonstrated by exempting us from trials. Rather, His love is demonstrated by proving His power in the worst of conditions.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). It is in the middle of such fiery ordeals that the Lord wants to speak the words of comfort to our hearts that He spoke to Martha: "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" (John 11:40)
The time to believe is in the moment of difficulty. That’s when we get to see the glory of God. So praise God for the difficulties. They reveal the genuineness of our faith, and they give us a chance to see God’s glory, power, and love.