Wednesday, 13 July 2016

When the Master calls {how we respond in trials}

I am confident that I am not alone in my observation that there is a distinct difference in nature and personalities between my children. The more I have, the more i see the difference. Even though I have 9 children, I can safely say that no two of them are very alike in personality, nor really in looks. They are all individuals, with a God-given personality that makes them "themselves".

I was reading the passage about the death of Lazarus, the other day. I was struck, again, like I have previously been when reading the "cumbered about" account, that Mary and Martha, although sisters, had quite distinct personalities.

Mary is the quiet, more withdrawn one. I can imagine her, quietly sitting beside Jesus, listening to Him teaching. Martha. She's the one I relate to more. The one who is more bustly, busy, and quick to speak, instead of listening. And yet, passionate in her devotion.

These differences are seen once again in this narrative. IF you remember, the news that Lazarus was sick came to Jesus. He seemed His usual, calm self, and told the messengers it was fine. Don't worry. He's not sick to die. He, in fact, said it was going to be to God's glory.

Let's pause. What a great reminder. Trials come into our lives, and we should realise, right at the onset, that all these things happen for God's glory. It's not so much the incident that glorifies God - rather how we respond to it, and how we deal with it. We don't all get the outcome that Lazarus did, but we still have the God-given opportunity to give praise and glory to the one who "hath done all things well".

Jesus, the one who they KNEW was a miracle worker, announces he is going to just sit where he is for a couple of days. THEN, he decides to go to Bethany, whilst announcing to His disciples that Lazarus is, in fact, already dead. But not dead. Just sleeping. His disciples were understandably confused, but just accepted, and travelled with Him. The purpose for the delay was explained by Jesus, again.

"And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe"

This was all an exercise in faith and trust. It was to point people to His saving power. So that they would know He was GOD.

Pausing again. THAT is why we are allowed to go through struggles and trials. So that others may see GOD in it all. His power. His glory. His perfect will.

He carries on along the road.

Martha hears He is nearby and comes rushing to Him.

Mary sits in the house.

There we have it, again. Two different personalities. Two different natures. Two different ways of approaching the Saviour.

Martha rushes to Him, with a slight accusation, and yet GREAT faith and trust in who Jesus is.

"Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."

Oh, I LOVE that "but I KNOW".

She knew that Jesus could have prevented his death. But, OH, she knew he could also bring him back to life!!! Such enormous trust and faith.

I SO need more of that faith. TO be in the middle of sad and serious circumstances but to KNOW that Jesus can work it all out, because He is God, and He just can. My faith is so weak.

Jesus then ascertains her understanding of who He is, and what he is capable of. Upon her acknowledgement, she rushes back to Mary, telling her

"The Master is come, and calleth for thee"

I LOVE Mary's response. Yes, she had stayed where she was, when Martha had run to meet Jesus. But,

"As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him."

The Master called, and she jumped to do His bidding.

This made me think of times of trial and difficulty. On difficult days, do we jump to do what Jesus requires of us, or do we sit wallowing in our trials until we feel like being obedient and submissive to the situation we are in?  The Word of God is to be obeyed no matter how down or sad we are feeling. Our feelings don't hold a candle to the importance of being followers of Jesus who come when we are called.

The Lord calls us to be so many things. And those things don't change just because life is hard, or we are facing a bad day. No. We are still to seek Him and follow Him. Not everyone responds the same way to trials and struggles. We may be the kind of people who need to talk to others - we jump up and rush to Him like Martha did. Others may internalise their struggles, quietly - we may sit quietly alone, and then respond as soon as we hear His "Words" whispered to our heart, like Mary. But, obey we must. Seek Him, we must. Be in His presence, we must.

Mary and Martha were tested in a deep way. The whole situation was so emotive that Jesus, himself, wept. When He saw His dear friends in such agony of spirit, He, too, wept, even though He KNEW what He was about to do! He knew the end from the beginning, but was still touched by their sadness.

Jesus sees our sadness. He weeps with those who weep.

But, He still requires that we follow Him and obey His bidding.

Those sisters went through an agonising few days, but just look at the outcome! Their faith was rewarded, and God was glorified in an amazing way. That trial was used for good.

Many Jews saw that He was the Saviour and put their faith in Him.

It also set in motion the events that would lead to Jesus' death.

God's ways are perfect. Trials come, but we need to still be ready to jump up at His bidding, and obey Him in every part of our lives, no matter how we are feeling. WE may come weeping and sad, but come, we must. Come to the one who is control of the situation we find ourselves in, and place our trust entirely in Him, knowing that "all things work together for good".

No matter the situation you find yourself in, run to the Saviour, obey His bidding, and wait to see the great things He has in store to His glory.

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