ODJ: Honest in Our Pain

March 14, 2018 

READ: John 11:1-44 

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.21).

An article titled “Jacob and Our Wrestling Match with God” reflects on the significance of God changing Jacob’s name, arguing that the name change points to a character transformation. “Jacob”, which means “crooked”, becomes “Israel”, which probably means “One who wrestles with God [and] One who is straight (direct, honest) with God.”

Scripture often uplifts such raw honesty with God, as evident in the psalms. As Pamela Greenberg writes, “The first and most obvious thing about the psalms is that they awaken us to the possibility of speaking honestly about our pain. So many distortions rise up when we react to our emotional lives rather than expressing our sorrows and hurts in a transformative way.”

After their brother Lazarus’ death, both Martha and Mary honestly expressed their pain to Jesus. While their brother was still alive, they’d sent Jesus a message that his “dear friend [was] very sick” (John 11:3). But Jesus mysteriously “stayed where he was” (v.6), only coming after Lazarus had died. When He finally arrived in Bethany, Martha went out to meet Him, and the first words out of her mouth were “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v.21). In response, “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying’ ” (v.25).

Martha then went to get her sister. When Mary met Jesus, she echoed Martha’s statement (v.32). Seeing her pain, Jesus wept (v.35). Then He “shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ ” (v.43). And Lazarus came out alive (v.44).

In return for their confusion and pain, Jesus gave these sisters encouragement, comfort and restoration.

May we too bring our wounds to Jesus and experience His healing.

—Remi Oyedele

365-day plan: Judges 16:22-31

Read Psalm 6:1-10 and consider the raw honesty of David’s prayer. 
How comfortable do you feel with honestly expressing your emotions to God? How does this compare with what the Bible reveals about approaching Him?