“And many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss.”
I read a story recently about a woman named Agnes Sanford. Sanford was a woman with a remarkable gift of prayer and healing, experiencing countless physical healings on the spot. When praying for sick children, she would often ask the parents to leave the room because she felt the fears and anxieties of the parents were actually getting in the way of effective prayer. It was her belief the parents were focused on their child’s suffering and they were faithless in prayer. I thought about Sanford reading this story in John 11,
There’s nothing wrong with mourning, as a matter of fact the Bible says to mourn with those who mourn, so I’m not implying that everyone who showed up to mourn was doing something wrong, BUT I’ve also learned that bad news draws a crowd, and sometimes the more people who are in the room the larger the depressing sense of sadness. It remind me of the story in Matthew 9:23-26
“When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. “Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him. After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.
I don’t think its a coincidence Jesus stayed outside of town. Sometimes people with the best of intentions who are trying to be supportive can make me feel worse because they just keep reminding of what’s wrong and forcing me to repeat my tragic story.
Later in John 11 in verse 37 it says,
“some said, “This man healed a blind man, Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
People don’t mean to be negative, most of the time they’re just externally processing, but when I’m facing life’s most difficult moments I have enough questions, cynicism, and doubt I don’t need any help. You don’t think Mary and Martha hadn’t thought that? Of course they had.
These verses are a reminder to be the type of friend who shows up to support people in difficult moments, but instead of adding to the cynicism or doubt, I want to bring faith in the door with me. Can you imagine how different it would have felt if someone would have rephrased the question? When Mary and Martha were at their lowest someone could have put their arm around them and said, “This man healed a blind man, HE CAN keep Lazarus from dying.”