“Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him.” (John 11:45)
During our struggles we may believe our lives void of significance. Pinned beneath cancer’s aggressive hold, squeezed tight by financial difficulties, or drained by depression’s tiresome company, we may think we are permanently out-of-order, on the sidelines, benched for the season. Nothing could be further from the truth.
When sunshine was the prevailing report we memorized Christ’s assurance that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). But our adversities padlocked the door, and we find ourselves fumbling to find the misplaced key as the rain drenches this reality outside.
Mary might have felt the very same. Her beloved brother, Lazarus, had died, and from Mary’s perspective Jesus acted totally unconcerned. This Mary “who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair” (John 11:2) needed the Savior, and he had simply disappointed them all.
When Jesus finally showed up in Bethany, her sister Martha whispered, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you” (John 11:28). Weeping and broken, she “rose quickly and went to him.” At this juncture in her life she was incapable of helping or ministering to others. Mary had nothing to offer Christ but questions. They were enough for him to work with.
An overlooked but remarkable sequence of events resulted. “When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her…” (John 11:31). Because Mary chose to move toward Jesus with her doubts, the crowd of mourners was perfectly positioned to witness the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection. And many “believed in him.” The Lord used Mary to draw them into his kingdom at a time when she felt totally helpless. Mary had sat at Jesus’ feet, had heard his teachings, had witnessed his miracles. But now his power was made perfect through her weakness. The Lord called for her, and though she was distraught and disappointed, she came to him. God used her right where she was, weak, needy, forlorn.
His ways have not changed. Our inadequacies do not thwart God’s hand. In fact, they just might be what he will use to carry out his incredible plan.
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell