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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

December 26, 2014

When things don't go as planned

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

A new year is about to begin, according to human time reckoning. Some look forward to the new year by making plans and resolutions. New year's resolutions, we call them. In order words, we have a wish: to purchase something, to change jobs or to improve ourselves.

One thing is already sure for the year 2015: Not all our wishes will be fulfilled. We will encounter some challenges in the coming year, just like we have every year before.

In our walk with God we also experience unfulfilled wishes or requests we make of God. The sisters Mary and Martha are a good example of this. They made their request known in an indirect manner: "The sisters sent to Him [Jesus], saying, Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick" (John 11:3). What they were actually saying was, "Jesus, please heal your friend Lazarus".

Jesus planned to intervene for Lazarus, but in a different manner than his sisters expected. "When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it" (verse 5).

We all know the story. Jesus did not go to Bethany right away, but waited two days before doing so. In the meantime Lazarus had died. The motivation for what Jesus did – as is always the case with Christ and our heavenly Father – was love: "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus" (verse 5).

How did Mary and Martha respond to what appeared to be Jesus' delayed reaction to their request? Did they say: "What kind of a friend is that who doesn't come right away? Forget him, we don't to have anything to do with him anymore!"

No, that's not how they reacted. They did not understand why Jesus did not come right away, but their faith did not waver: "Now Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You" (verses 21-22).

One of several lessons we can learn from this story is whether we can believe in a God who doesn't grant all our requests or who allows things to happen in our life that we would not have asked for. It is very important for God "that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).

The author of Hebrews emphasizes an important aspect of this faith: "He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

Mary and Martha were rewarded for their faith in Christ in short order: their brother was soon resurrected from the dead. For many, though, the reward for faith is delayed, sometimes becoming evident years later or only in "the next life".

When things in our life don't go as planned or requests are not fulfilled, it is an opportunity for God to see what kind of faith we have.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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