When Martha found out Jesus was on his way, she did not hesitate. Scripture doesn’t say why her sister Mary stayed behind at that moment, but this gave Martha much-needed time alone with her Lord. Let’s give ourselves permission during trying times to take a break and run to Jesus for comfort. His loving presence will give us strength to persevere.
4. It’s okay to wonder “what if,” but don’t linger there.
“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask’” (John 11:21–22).
What if she were still here right now? What if things were different? Even three years after my loss, I sometimes wonder what might have been. Questioning events in our lives isn’t a bad thing, as long as we don’t let the questions consume us. We need to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in all situations.
Although Martha thought circumstances would’ve been different had Jesus been there, she declared the truth of who Jesus is: “I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Even Jesus himself demonstrated this same trust in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
Women leaders are master multitaskers. We problem-solve, organize, and keep things on schedule. But with this knack for structure and process comes the desire to make sense of it all. Unfortunately, we won’t always have the answers. Understanding this teaches us more about humility and reliance on God. Consistently affirming God’s lordship over our lives and ministries will keep us from falling into the trap of “what-ifs.”
5. Know when to move beyond the mourning.
“After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him” (John 11:28–29).
Friends came to Mary and Martha’s home to mourn with them. Wanting to inform Mary of Jesus’ return, Martha pulled her aside, away from all the people. Mary acted just as we would expect—she responded when Jesus called.
God delights in our immediate obedience. But we cannot miss the importance of Mary’s circumstance. She was still distraught over Lazarus’ death, but her willingness to leave that place of grief and respond to his call showed that there is a time to mourn, and then a time to move forward. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. Because even though many reached out to me in my difficult time, I stepped away from leading and stayed in solitude for too long. That separation negatively impacted the ministry. Instead of seeing the ministry strengthened through adversity, I watched it wither.