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Life Lessons: Mary of Bethany

Reading: John 11:1-44

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is probably my favorite Christmas movie but I know I will cry. In fact, I can tell you the moment I will get the knot in my throat, George standing in the graveyard, to the moment that I will ugly cry, when Harry toasts George. It’s embarrassing and no matter how I prepare myself, the tears will come. I think this is because I have a “little” brother and the George/Harry storyline about kills me.

We don’t know much about Mary of Bethany’s relationship with her siblings but I’ve always assumed Martha was the older sister because she had that firstborn personality that I struggle with, and I think we can believe that Mary and Martha both loved their brother dearly because of their reactions to his death in John 11.

When Jesus arrives after Lazarus’ death, Mary and Martha have very different reactions. We’ve discussed Martha’s reaction previously but here we see Mary is not initially there when Christ arrives and I have to wonder. Was she waiting patiently? Was she angry? Was she numb? We don’t know but what we do know is that when she is told Jesus was asking for her, she ran to Him.

I’ve always wondered about her greeting when she gets to Christ. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Was this an admonishment or simply a statement of fact? These are the only words recorded for her in this moment and I think that, in light of Mary’s faith, it was the latter. Not just a statement of fact, but her continued belief that He was the Messiah. Her “Daniel 3:18 moment” … “If not, He is still good.” (paraphrased).

With all that Mary had experienced, this was probably one of the biggest tests of her faith up to this moment. Her heart was broken. Her emotions were raw. She could have easily cast blame on this teacher that she watched heal so many others but not her brother but she didn’t. She didn’t even demand that He fix the problem. She just reminded herself and those around her that in spite of life’s valleys, He was still God.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, please help me to remember in the midst of my valleys that You are still God and in control. Help me remember that my pain does not negate Your goodness and that I simply won’t understand it all this side of Heaven. Allow my testimony to speak that truth to those around me and thank you for always carrying me.

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