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The Moment before the Miracle

by Allison Martin

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or thing, according to the power that worketh in us.

Ephesians 3:20

If you’ve never taught Bible stories to preteens that have never heard them before, I highly recommend it. It is incredible. The children of Israel crossing the Red Sea was literally jaw dropping for my Sunday School girls. If they thought that was amazing, I can’t wait to tell them about Lazarus.

Lazarus is old news to us. Been there, done that, checked it off my Bible reading plan. We don’t feel the heaviness of Mary’s grief or the frustration of four agonizing days where God just didn’t do what you thought He would. We skim right over the despair that sinks in when a situation slips beyond the point of no redemption. Unfortunately, I think our familiarity with the story has dimmed it’s meaning to us.

Stop for a moment and step into the scene that the Apostle John paints us. It’s a rather dismal one. You can almost taste the choking dust swimming around the crowd that has gathered. Burial caves stand in little contrast to the graying sky. The procession has come to a dragging halt here. Close, but not too close. Muffled sobs rise above the murmur. Two huddled figures cling to one another, and the crowd parts respectfully. Mary and Martha. Loving sisters who have just buried a dear brother and life as they knew it. The grief has not consumed them, but the questions nearly do. Why wasn’t He here?

The stone is removed from the door, as ordered. Most onlookers shake their heads in sympathy and stare uncomfortably at the ground. “No need in reminding those poor sisters of what’s in there,” some think to themselves. “It’s just making things worse.” Nearby stands the Giver of Life, all of creation awaiting His request. He is crying. And then suddenly, with no fanfare or fireworks, Jesus opens His mouth to speak the words that will change everything. Pause.

We have the advantage of hindsight, and if we’ll stop to take a look around here, there’s a powerful truth to be uncovered.

Notice in this moment how little has changed since Lazarus died. The only thing that has changed is the attendance. Jesus showed up, but He hasn’t really done anything. Martha seems like the list maker type, and she probably knows just what she wants Jesus to do. But He hasn’t done any of it. In the next sixty seconds, tears will be wiped away and shouts of joy will ring out through the hills. And it will catch everyone by surprise. Because they’re judging God’s intentions based upon what they’ve seen Him do in this situation already- which is nothing. Martha has no idea that her story is about to change forever, because the evidence she’s looking for just isn’t there.

When I’m praying about a situation, I often catch myself looking for “clues”. I search for small ways that God might be moving on my behalf. Which is good, because if you’re not looking, you’ll miss it. But there are also times that you wait and you watch and you hope and nothing changes. Not even a little bit. And this is where our faith struggles to stand.

We work in processes. We follow steps and procedures to get things done, and we usually feel like God is supposed to as well.

Most of all, we love to see progress. That’s our way of seeing how much is being accomplished. For us, no progress means we are nowhere close to getting a solution. It tells us that nothing has gotten any better. But God doesn’t work like we do.

We work in small steps because of our limitations. He can work in an instant because He has none.

God often chooses to work in a way that is undeniably Him. Meaning that it wasn’t when, or where, or how we would have done it. Or could have done it.

If you’re praying for your spouse and it seems their heart hasn’t softened, don’t give up.

When your loved one hasn’t come to church even once despite all the times you’ve asked them, ask again.

If you still can’t see how God will bring you to the ministry He’s called you to, stay faithful.

God can change hearts and open eyes in a moment. He knows how to orchestrate events out of nowhere. He isn’t intimidated when things fall apart. Build up your faith today- all it takes is one word. Don’t underestimate how quickly God can turn everything around.

When God speaks, seas split. Walls crumble. Hope breathes again.

It may look completely hopeless. But it may be the moment just before the miracle.

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