Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Courageous Faith (The Fifth Sunday of Lent)

Last year, for the fifth Sunday of Lent, I wrote about the Mary and Martha story: Do you believe this? Jesus asks Martha in the Gospel of John. Do you believe I am the resurrection and the life? Do you believe me? 

At that moment, my English grandmother had just died, and I was angry at God for the questions and the loneliness and the overwhelming sense of needing to be perfect, and if only He had been listening and if only I hadn't been messing up, it would all still be perfect.

One long year later, and I read my words again.

I have learned that faith is brave.

It takes courage to tell Jesus that even now, you know God will give Him whatever He asks. It is brave to look at Jesus on the cross and believe that this man from Nazareth is the Son of God, the resurrection and the life, that He has come into this world to transform it.

Martha was brave in this story. Her heart, heavy with loss and with questions, still pushed her forward, towards Jesus. And when she asks her question, Jesus, who sees all and who loves all, replies: "Your brother will rise again."

And then she is brave and questions him again - because sometimes God wants us to knock harder at the door and push further into the story. Sometimes He wants us to ask for more. And when Martha does, Jesus tells her: "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe me?"

God waited until Martha asked again, until she challenged His first answer, to reveal something miraculous. Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

Last year I wondered what was so miraculous about that. Maybe you have wondered too. Maybe we are all Martha, our whole selves aching with loss and hurt, our bones weighed down by gravity. But Martha speaks from courage, and God answers her. She challenges Jesus - Lord, if you had been here -

And God answers back with the truth about the resurrection.

One year after writing these words I didn't realize I would need to read again, I hear courage in Martha's voice. I hear her trembling, aching heart weary for something more than beautiful words, weary for something more than comfort. I hear how she aches for the truth. I hear how she believes.

May we be filled with the same courage.


Fifth Sunday in Lent

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly
wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to
love what you command and desire what you promise; that,
among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts
may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. "Sometimes He wants us to ask for more." I've never considered this story in this way. What if we are brave and simply ask. I wonder what all we miss out on because we don't. 


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