Over the past two weeks, two very similar situations presented themselves to me. Each involved two people I care about very much. Through conversations with the individuals, I concluded they had needs which appeared to require immediate solutions.
I had been thinking about situation #l for two or three days and finally decided to share it with my husband Willie, especially since the solution involved him, as well as me. Duh? I know….I probably could have saved myself some time and energy if I had gone to him right away when I felt the need presented itself. I don’t even remember praying about the situation. Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. I’m just not sure. Anyway, when I explained the circumstances to Willie, he asked, “Why do you think we’re the ones to help in this situation?” I said, “I don’t know, but I know this person needs help and we’re able.” Being the gracious person he is, Willie said, “Well, if you think we’re supposed to do something then go ahead.”
Situation # 2 came along a few days after that. Again, someone mentioned a need. Willie happened to be in the room at the time and I’m sure he almost sucked the oxygen out of the room, holding his breath, hoping I wouldn’t say anything. This time I remained quiet. I heard the need, empathized but made no further comments. I’m sure Willie was relieved.
A few days later, while dressing for church, I was thinking about the two situations. I wondered, “Did Jesus ever see a need, have an emotional response, but choose not to respond immediately?” Suddenly, a scene flashed before my eyes. I saw Mary and Martha, two sisters whose brother, Lazarus, was sick. They had come to Jesus to give him the news, knowing He was able to do something about it. Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)
The scripture went on to say that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. However, it also says in the very next verse, “He stayed two or more days in the place where He was.” (11:6) How do you like that? His friend was sick and He chose not to go with the sisters. Hmmm………. The sisters probably thought He didn’t care! I certainly would have questioned His seeming lack of care. Fine friend He was!
You probably know the rest of the story. In a conversation with His disciples, He stated, “And I am glad for your sakes that you were not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to him.” (11:15) Later we understand more of the story. Not only did the sisters believe, but the disciples and the Jews believed when they saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead! It was all about God’s timing! It was time for the glory of God to be revealed!
God is teaching me the difference between a God response and an emotional response. He has given me the gift of compassion, but I cannot allow my heart to direct my path. I must depend upon the Holy Spirit to guide me. So often we want to rescue those closest to us, but that may not be God’s best. While we want to relieve the suffering of others, God may be telling us “Not yet.” He may allow further suffering to fulfill His work in us and those around us. If we do anything to short change that work, we are enablers! We simply prolong the process.
I have to admit it’s much easier for me to enable than to take my hands off and ask God to take control. Sometimes we have to do the hard thing and trust God to fulfill the need in His time and by His means. We may come off as being uncaring or unsympathetic, and for a pleaser that’s tough! As my friend often says, “Get over it!”
So the next time you and I are faced with a situation, we need to ask, “Am I the one to fulfill this need and is it the right time?” If we ask and sincerely want Our Father to answer, He will let us know clearly. We just need to be attentive for His answer.