Martha gets a bad rap. Until a few months ago, I always thought it was justified. She’s the one who couldn’t understand that sitting at Jesus’ feet is the best place to be and, at her brother’s funeral, actually complained that Jesus was late. Martha wasn’t perfect. But, recently, I’ve begun to appreciate what’s good about Martha, and even to pray that the Lord would make me more like her.
Listen to Martha for a minute as she talks to Jesus: “’Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me’” (Luke 10:40), “’Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’” (John 11:21), “’Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days’” (John 11:39). Martha! How could you have had the nerve to say those things to Jesus?
But there’s another way to see Martha.
In her book, Legacy of Faith, author Lydia Brownback writes, “Martha was painfully honest with Jesus about her feelings. She did not hold back, simmering in a state of anger and frustration. She could easily have thought, ‘I will not tell him how I feel. It sounds petty, and he will probably get mad at me for making an issue of it.’ Rather, she pursued honest communication, without compromising her acknowledgement of his lordship.” (p. 190)
It’s worth noting that Jesus corrects Martha for misplaced affections and lack of faith, but He doesn’t rebuke her boldness. When Martha comes to Jesus honestly, He befriends her and teaches her about her own heart. If she hadn’t spoken, she might never have grown.
When you have a desire for your family or ministry, are you afraid to pray honestly?
Our family has been waiting seven long months for progress on our international adoption. We know that desiring to welcome a child into our family is according to God’s Word. But as the weeks and months stretch on, I find myself afraid of boldness. I want to pray, “Lord, today, please make the phone ring today!” But I waver, thinking: what if God’s answer is “no”? I’ll be disappointed...again.
Martha would ask for today. I’m sure she would.
A wise friend told me: When you don’t pray what you desire, you are lying. If your desire isn’t fulfilled, you will be disappointed, whether or not you prayed, and you’ll also feel alone. On the other hand, if you honestly pray the desires of your heart, the answer may be “no,” but then you can turn to the God of all comfort and allow Him to uphold you and teach your heart. And if He says “yes,” you’ll glorify Him with your rejoicing.
Ask boldly. Be like Martha.