“Do you believe this?” It’s a question Jesus asked Martha which demanded an answer. It’s a question we can fairly assume God asks all of us. Do we believe?
To the Christian, all of eternity changes by the answer to this question.
To refuse belief is to cast our lot with ourselves. It’s to commit our eternal destiny to chance or to our own ability to earn whatever we desire. It’s to go our own way believing we know better than the way which Jesus taught.
To believe is a different story. It’s to admit we aren’t okay by ourselves. It’s to confess a need for God’s forgiveness and admit an inability for us to handle life on our own. It’s more than a cognitive acceptance of facts about Jesus and is a life-altering change of attitudes and actions attempting to respond to the way which Jesus calls.
Every person answers the question, “Do you believe this?”
Yet it’s when the question is asked to Martha that is fascinating. Jesus asked Martha this question on one of her darkest days. Her brother had died. Despite her efforts to save him, he was gone. Martha had sent word to Jesus in hopes that Jesus would be able to get to the side of Lazarus before it was too late. Jesus responded slower than Martha had hoped and didn’t arrive until Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” Martha told him. They are words of bitterness for the slow response of Jesus. They are words of tremendous faith. She knew Jesus held a power no one else had. She believed that had Jesus been there, he could have changed the outcome for Lazarus. Her statement was one of sorrow over timing, not anger over inability.
In the midst of her pain, Jesus reveals himself as being even more powerful than Martha realized. The finality of death didn’t apply to Jesus. When He is around, time never runs out. Jesus explained to Martha what he could do. Yet before he did anything, he questioned Martha’s faith. He didn’t ask, “Do you believe this?” after he raised Lazarus from the dead. He didn’t wait until the story was complete. Right in the middle of the situation when the outcome looked the most bleak was the timing in which Jesus asked this pivotal question.
It was true for Martha and, so often, it’s true for us. Questions of faith are most often answered in times of doubt. We always want more information. We would like to delay until we have a greater understanding. We want to know the rest of the story. But before the outcome is revealed, before the details fully unfold, we are asked to make our decision–do you believe this?
The timing is no accident. God desires faith. More than having all the answers or understanding every detail, God desires us to have a humble trust in him. Even if we can’t see it all or explain it all or, even like it all, God wants us to trust him in all things. So he asks. Before the final outcome. Before all the cards are on the table. Before we know for certain exactly what we think. He asks us to decide about him and in faith to trust him with what is to come.
So he asks, “Do you believe this?”
Even in the midst of your greatest heartache, do you believe that God can use your sorrow for good?
Even when the circumstances of life scream that everyone is against you, do you believe that God is for you?
Even when the world seems irrevocably broken, do you believe that God can redeem it?
Even when you have done horrifically wrong, do you believe God can forgive you?
Even when you feel all alone, do you believe God sees you?
Even when you feel useless, do you believe God still loves you?
Even when death feels so final, do you believe that there is something after this life?
Do you believe this?
So often we feel ill-equipped to answer the question. We want more time, evidence, and understanding. But we don’t need any of those things. We have everything we need to determine if we will trust Jesus or not.
If you don’t, don’t.
But if you do, do. In whatever situation you find yourself today, take a deep breath, confess your doubts, and proclaim your trust in him. Much like Martha, we can say, “Yes, Lord; I believe.”