Have you been in this type of place before? The place of unmet expectations, unanswered prayer, and unaided pain which Christ did not show up for. Many of us are still in this place now asking Christ,
“If you could have prevented this pain, WHY DIDN’T YOU?!”
If there is comfort to be found in this place let me offer this story from the Book of John. Mary, Martha and Lazarus, three of Jesus’ close friends, called desperately for him to heal Lazarus from a life threatening sickness. Christ’s response to this request was a bit less than what was expected.
But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.
Considers this the first unmet expectation of Christ. Lazarus did die. They wrapped him up, put him in the tomb, and started grieving. Then, days later, did Christ show up to the scene. Martha said to Christ with all the emotion of a grieving sister and a seemingly betrayed friend, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” This is often the point when people walk away claiming the God is an unloving, manipulative chess player and we are simply his pawns and puppets.
Christ then says to Martha, in the midst of her brokenness and unmet expectations in Christ,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?“
How could she believe? Martha would have been justified in telling Christ to get lost but that was not her response.
Martha allowed her FAITH to have more authority than her EMOTIONS!
Martha responded by claiming, “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
She had no idea that Christ would then walk to Lazarus’ tomb, weep over his death, then in front of all the mourners and those whose expectations were unmet Christ raise Lazarus from the dead. Thus being the second unmet expectation of this story. No one was expecting Christ to raise Lazarus from the dead!
It is a terrifying place to be when when our expectations are not met in Christ but then are asked to continue to believe in something greater than the reality we see in front of us.Christ does not tremble or fall back in the midst of our emotions? Christ embraces, empathizes and reframes our emotions so that we can grow in our faith, love and dependency of him. Like Martha when we allow our FAITH to have more authority in our lives than our EMOTIONS we position ourselves to have Christ EXCEED the expectations we have of him.
I pray this week that no matter the circumstance we find ourselves we authentically bring our emotional selves to Christ while allowing our faith in who is says he is ground the decisions we make. When habitually allow our faith in who Christ is to frame our expectations of Christ we will continue to have unmet expectations, those that Christ faithfully exceeds.