A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha… So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.”… Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days.
(John 11:1,3,5-6 MSG)
In the movie, Heaven is for Real, Pastor Todd Burpo, who almost lost his son, and a parishioner, Nancy Rawling, who lost her son, have an interesting conversation about God’s love. As they sit in the cemetery where her son is buried, Nancy confesses her anger to Todd. “[I’m mad at God.] Why God would give you your son back and take mine away…” Todd then asks her a series of questions to help answer her question. “Do you love your son?” “Yes,” answers Nancy. “Do you think I love mine?” “Yes,” she says again. “Do you think I love mine more than you love yours?” “No.” “Nancy, do you think God loves my son more than He loves yours?” Nancy then responds with an emphatic, “No.”
For a long time, I prayed that God would do something for someone that I really cared about. And every time, it seemed as though God was answering that prayer for everyone else except for that person. Like Nancy, I began to question God’s love. Why would He grant others what I had been asking and not the person I was praying for? It was then that I heard God’s still, small voice reassuring me of His love for that person and His perfect plan for their life.
Just because God doesn’t give us what we expect when we expect it, it doesn’t mean that He loves us any less. In today’s passage, John makes it clear that Martha and Mary were aware of Jesus’ love for them and their brother Lazarus. But Jesus chose to delay His visit to His sick friend because He had a better plan in mind. “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son” (John 11:4). Trust His love. It’s unconditional.
God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.