In my mind’s eye, I see Martha, the sister of Lazarus, standing before Jesus with her knees weak and shaking. Through fear-filled eyes, she stares intently into the face of Jesus and declares, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give you” (John 11:21-22).
Martha’s declaration is precious. She is disappointed and confused. She does not understand why Jesus took so long to come to the aid of Lazarus. She does not understand why Jesus would allow Lazarus to die. Yet, in her grief and confusion, Martha declares her faith in Jesus: “Even now I know …”
I have heard so-called Bible teachers declare that God has not worked in a particular circumstance because someone’s faith was weak. These teachers often qualify the work of God by the quality of faith that an individual possesses. This qualifying of faith then puts the responsibility for God to work upon us.
I do not see this concept verified in Scripture. The issue is not the quantity of faith or the ability to believe. Rather the issue in Scripture concerning faith is whom you believe in and what you believe about Him. Only faith centered on the Person of Jesus avails.
Martha’s faith was weak at best. Yet, faith in Jesus was still resident. She declared to Jesus what she believed about Him: He could have healed her brother; there would be a resurrection in the last day; Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, sent by God into the world.
Was this enough? Martha’s expectation was certainly not centered on Lazarus’ resurrection. When Jesus ordered the removal of the stone, Martha voiced objections. She was certain that the stench of death would permeate the air, proving that she had no illusions concerning any present hope for Lazarus.
But did the weaknesses of Martha’s faith in any way hinder the work of Jesus? No! Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40). How much belief was necessary for Martha to see the glory of God? She needed only to believe that He was “The Christ, the Son of God” who came into the world. This was all she needed to know. It was this simple declaration that allowed Martha to see the glory of God.
Jesus used Lazarus’ resurrection to strengthen the faith of Martha. What she knew concerning Jesus was not only solidified, it was glorified!
When Lazarus bounded out of the grave alive and well, Martha knew then that Jesus was the resurrection and the life and that by believing Him, she was assured of everlasting life.
God does not work in proportion to our faith. He works in order to increase our faith. There are times when circumstances are so disheartening, discouraging, and disillusioning that we must fall back on what we know to be true concerning Jesus. And as we declare to Jesus what we know to be true, He takes those inklings of faith and multiplies them.
What I believe about Jesus is essential for the work of God; what I believe about circumstances is of no account. In fact, preconceived notions concerning what I want God to do, feel He should do, or believe that He will do can often hinder the work of God. Martha thought that Jesus should come and heal her brother. Her faith was rocked when Jesus didn’t work according to her expectations, but Jesus had a greater work in mind. Jesus came to raise her brother from the dead!
He works because I place my faith in Him. He will not disappoint those who trust in Him.