By Pamela Patnode
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” ~ John 11:25
My cousin died from cancer a few months ago. He was 49. Like Jesus, I wept.
In today’s Gospel, Martha makes a profound confession of faith. While talking with Jesus about her brother Lazarus, Martha says, “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”
Martha’s Confession of Faith
Jesus responded to Martha’s statement by proclaiming, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Martha responded to Christ with tremendous faith. Her confession of faith was made while her brother lay dead, wrapped in burial cloths, for four days. Martha did not know that Jesus was about to perform a miracle. Yet, despite grieving the loss of her brother, Martha responded to Christ with unwavering trust. “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
Possessing faith like Martha is a true gift. So many people, on an intellectual level, can affirm that Jesus is Lord. When life is going smoothly, others can confess with joyful hope that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.
However, when life becomes challenging, when we are faced with death—our own or that of a loved one, confessing that God is benevolent, all-loving, and all-powerful can become a challenge. My cousin, who carried crosses of extraordinary weight, possessed this kind of faith—yet few knew it until his funeral.
Faith Amidst the Storms of Life
My cousin struggled with alcoholism. He also faced vision, financial, relationship, and cancer problems. By worldly standards, my cousin’s life might not have been considered a model of success. However, by God’s standards, I believe he can serve as an example to all of us.
While going through his belongings, my cousin’s sister found his Bible. In it was tucked a sheet of notebook paper upon which my cousin had written notes. The paper looked well used. It was titled “Bible Emergency Numbers.” From there, he had written headings such as:
“When in sorrow,”
“When men fail you,”
“By grace, you have been saved,”
“Bank account is empty,”
“Depressed,” and so on.
Following each caption, he had written Scripture verses.
This well-worn paper of Scripture references, handwritten by my cousin, has been an important reminder to me. Although my cousin’s life was wrought with challenges, he was a man of prayer and faith—even during the storms of life. What a reminder to us all. When life becomes burdensome, when life seems unfair, when death is at the door, even then, we are called to respond like Martha (and my cousin) with, “Yes, Lord, I believe.”
Jesus, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
Call to Action
Who in your life is carrying a cross? Reach out to that person today. Let them know that you care, ask them how you can help, and, above all, be sure to lift them up in prayer.
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