I can understand Martha (because she seems a lot like me) saying Lord, if only… but Mary too?
Mary, Jesus said earlier, had “chosen the good part.” Articles and books have been written on the spirit of Mary, and how Martha should have/could have been more like Mary.
Yet here are both sisters. Martha, overworked, worrying about too many things…saying, Lord, if only…
And Mary, seemingly the more spiritual one, with the identical response…Lord, if only. . .
How many times have I said or thought if only…
I’d pay the bill on time, seen the deer, remembered to turn off the stove, mended that relationship… and on and on the list goes. Usually directed at myself. If only I had…
But Martha does not say, if only I’d cleaned one more room, If only I’d made a better meal or even if only, I’d been more like Mary…
And Mary does not say, if only I’d sat at your feet longer, Lord, or if only I’d helped Martha more.
Both of them instead, do something far more dangerous. They tell God things could have been different, (right, better) if only He had shown up!
Imagine God’s puny creation daring to tell him he was not in the right place at the right time. That this situation is HIS fault and out of His control. It could have been avoided IF Jesus had been more caring. Others echoed Martha and Mary’s sentiments in John 11:37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him who was blind, have kept this man also from dying?”
When Jesus assures Martha she will see her brother again she assumes he means the resurrection, our ultimate assurance from God. But Martha’s reaction was like “Well yeah, sure, you will do that. Someday. But I wanted him back now, and you weren’t here when you could have been.” Lord, if only…
I so relate to them. They could not see the Master’s hand. I cannot always see His hand either. They only knew they wanted their loved one back, and that Jesus could have stopped death. I too know that God alone controls life and death.
Job 14:5 Mortals have a limited life span.
You’ve already decided how long we’ll live—
you set the boundary and no one can cross it.
And how did Jesus respond to the ‘If onlys’? Jesus wept. Because he loved Lazarus or because he sympathized with Mary and Martha’s grief? Possibly, but I think Jesus wept because his closest earthly friends did not ‘get’ the eternal picture of why Jesus had come. It’s natural to look to the short-term miracles rather than eternal purpose. Grief focuses us in blindness, not grasping that He WAS there, that Christ IS God, and that He is the God of the past, the present and the future. He goes before me.
A friend recently posted how something happened to upset her and her daughter reminded her it was “a non-eternal.” That puts life’s upsets in its proper perspective.
Several years back my sisters and I made a red-bird challenge. Our daughters later joined in praying for one another whenever we saw a red bird. It’s been amazing how many red birds we see, and the sense of being prayed for we have experienced. One of our daughter’s last gifts to me was a felted red bird.
Join us in praying for perspective, to not allow non-eternals to sap strength, and to keep the eternal perspective front and center even if, especially if – and when, like Mary and Martha, I really don’t understand.