Wednesday, February 3, 2021
I have a problem. Please don’t start a list and send it to me. I know I have many problems. But the one problem I want to focus on today is illustrated by this story.
Grandkids are fantastic. But occasionally something happens at our house and we aren’t made aware of it until days later when we find the damage. One day, as I was walking through the family room, I noticed a broken collectible. I took it from the shelf where it had been skillfully placed to disguise the damage and I went upstairs. My first question to my wife was, “Who did this?”
That’s a problem. Why do we so quickly want to blame others for undesirable outcomes? Why do we criticize people when our expectations aren’t met? Did it really matter at that point who broke the figurine, or should I have recognized that my grandchildren were afraid of my reactions, so they tried to hide what they did?
In John eleven, Mary and Martha respond to the arrival of Jesus in much the same way as I do. When Jesus is approaching, Martha goes to meet him, while Mary stays in the house. Martha wants to make sure Jesus understands how things could have been different. Her first words to Jesus were. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Why did Mary stay in the house? Maybe she was too consumed with the dangerous mixture of grief and anger. We know that when she finally came out of the house and spoke to Jesus, she also said exactly what Martha had said. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”The ladies had obviously talked about this. They had decided that someone needed to be blamed, so they blamed the One who they thought could have prevented the death of their brother.
We are far too often like Mary and Martha. Things don’t turn out according to our plans, so we seek to blame someone else. Maybe the reason is that we look at life from a human perspective and not from God’s perspective. We have predetermined an outcome that best suits our current goals in life, when instead we could be expecting an outcome that glorifies God. Our perspective will determine our response.
Our pride is powerful. We believe that the way we want life to turn out is the best way for it to happen. We place more value on things than we do on people’s feelings. We explode in frustration because something we value wasn’t treasured by others the way we treasure it. We would rather defend our rights than seek to understand the perspective of others. So we criticize and blame people for interfering with our self-defined sources of happiness.
I am thankful that Martha recognized her problem. Right after she blurted out her blame of Jesus, she recovered by saying, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” If only that had been her first thought. If only it was mine.
Lord, make my first thought always be what you can do, and not what I think I have lost.