Did you ever feel like God was playing favorites and you were being left out?
Have you ever looked around at what others received—maybe things you desperately wanted from God—and wondered why He said ‘yes’ to them and ‘no’ to you?
Elijah did. Remember the complaint he threw in God’s face?
“[Elijah] replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’” (I Kings 19:14)
And remember how tenderly God treated Elijah – in spite of his attitude – giving him rest and nourishment and a companion to walk beside him along the road?
Fast forward a few generations, to a time when Jesus was fielding such questions. I’m thinking specifically of His time with two sisters, Martha and Mary, and their story in John 11. These sisters knew Jesus well. They served Him often and sat at His feet. He considered their home, His home.
But when their darkest hour came – the death of their brother Lazarus, their provider and protector – they called for Jesus, and He did not come.
In fact, He delayed His coming until He knew Lazarus was dead.
When Jesus did arrive, both sisters uttered the same lament: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 & 32)
Two sisters, so close to each other, experienced the same tragedy, felt the same grief, and expressed the same doubt in the same exact words.
And Jesus responded to each differently
With Martha, the practical one, He pointed her eyes toward eternity and the true resurrection. And I can’t help but wonder if she needed a lesson in the midst of her tragedy because she’d missed a time or two at Jesus’ feet.
With Mary, the dreamer, He said nothing. Perhaps she’d been sitting at His feet for so long that He knew His words were hidden in her heart to comfort and teach her.
Yet, even though Mary had sat often at Jesus’ feet, soaking in His words, and had been commended for her choice, her relationship with Him did not ward off tragedy. Jesus did not show favoritism. Mary still had to experience hard things.
So Jesus treated each sister differently – not from favoritism – but because He knew them. He knew their heart needs. He knew the attitudes behind their words. He knew they must soon face life without His physical presence. He knew they must be prepared for other days when it might seem He refused to come when they called.
From that perfect knowing, Jesus chose what gift to give each precious child.
Just so, our heavenly Father knows what’s best for us.
And we can be confident that’s exactly what He’ll give.
“Every good &perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17)