I really couldn’t love this woman more – Liz Curtis Higgs, a humble, wise author of 36 books, is one of my soul sisters. Together we’ve memorized Scripture, celebrated Christmas at the Farm, and wandered Shaker Village in Kentucky. Author of the bestsellers Bad Girls of the Bible, The Girl’s Still Got It, and The Women of Christmas, Liz has presented more than 1,700 inspirational programs in all 50 United States and 15 foreign countries — but she’s about as down to earth and warm and happiest grace as it gets. I just love her, and love her for coming by today. Have a seat on the farm’s front porch with us?
Mary of Bethany knelt beside Lazarus, fresh tears spilling down her cheeks.
Her beloved brother lay on a narrow bed, his skin as dull and lifeless as his dun-colored tunic.
A twisted cord hung loose around his waist. His chest looked sunken, empty.
Mary wept in silence, smoothing her hand over his brow, longing for answers. We need You, Jesus.
He alone could heal her brother, make him well again, make him whole. If she sent word, would He come? Please, Lord.
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. John 11:1
The original Greek tells us Lazarus was “weak, feeble.” He was not suffering from a common cold or an abscessed tooth. No, this illness held little promise of recovery. If you’ve lost a sibling, if you’ve walked in Mary’s footsteps, then you understand her sorrow.
Sadly, I know Mary’s heartache all too well.
When the first e-mail about my brother Tom appeared in my inbox, I assumed his liver disease was curable. Surgery. Medicine. There had to be a solution. He was fifteen years older than I was, but he wasn’t old.
This was the brother who took me canoeing, who showed me the beauty of nature, who talked our mother into letting me keep the kitten I brought home from the PTA festival. Tom was caring, funny, and wise, and he loved the little sister he called Rootie Toot.
As e-mails turned into lengthy phone calls, the reports grew dire. “Months.” “Weeks.” My sisters and I planned a trip west to see him, hoping Tom would rally and prove the doctors wrong.
We loved him desperately. But we could not save him and arrived too late to say good-bye.
Even now, years later, the missed opportunity and the tragic loss still weigh heavily on our hearts. It’s an ache that never goes away, a missing piece that can’t be replaced.
Mary of Bethany and her sister, Martha, surely felt the same way about their brother, Lazarus. Helpless, almost hopeless. Longing for their good friend Jesus to rescue him. Matthew Henry rightly said “the sickness of those we love is our affliction.” Mary and Martha shared their brother’s every wince of pain, every halting breath.
So the sisters sent word to Jesus,
“Lord, the one you love is sick.” John 11:3
Mary and Martha reminded Jesus of how much He cared for Lazarus, perhaps to ensure His swift response. After all, their brother’s Hebrew name meant “God has helped.” A reason to hope, then. A reason to ask.
What they clung to—and what we must cling to as well—is the Lord’s immeasurable and unconditional love.
He knows our needs and He meets them.
He sees our hurts and He heals them.
He understands our fears and He overcomes them.
While Jesus tarried by the Jordan, two women in Bethany watched their brother slip away from them. His final hours are not described in God’s Word, but we can imagine what they were like. Agonizing for Lazarus. Devastating for his sisters.
In our darkest moments, when we cry out to God and wonder if He’s listening, He sometimes whispers, Wait.
It’s a hard word to hear yet comforting as well.
It means He is there, He is with us, and He has a plan, even if it is not our plan.
Then Lazarus’s heart stopped beating. The brother they loved was gone.
So hard, my sisters. So hard.
All hope abandoned, Mary and Martha prepared their brother’s body, anointing him with myrrh and wrapping him in graveclothes. According to Jewish custom, a corpse was to be laid in a burial cave as quickly as possible. The sisters could not delay. Besides, if Jesus did walk through their door, it would be too late.
But with the Lord it’s never too late.
Mind if I say that again?
With Jesus it’s never too late.
Never too late for Him to mend a relationship you thought was broken.
Never too late for Him to help you get clean, get sober, get a new start.
Never too late for Him to work a miracle in your life.
He’s on His way, beloved.
Liz Curtis Higgs has one goal: to help people embrace the grace of God with joy and abandon. She’s the author of 36 books with 4.6 million copies in print, including The Women of Christmas, and 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart.
In her latest release, The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene, you will meet three women named Mary, each of whom has a life-changing encounter with Jesus. Your mind and emotions will be engaged and your faith strengthened as each scene unfolds, preparing your heart for a richer, deeper Easter experience. A seasoned Bible teacher and award-winning novelist, Liz combines her storytelling skills with a thorough verse-by-verse study of Scripture as together you explore the remarkable lives of The Women of Easter. This is one read you won’t want to miss this season.
Jennie Allen, founder of IF:Gathering and best-selling author of Nothing to Prove, said, “Liz Curtis Higgs has an incredible way of giving us a fresher, deeper understanding of God’s Word. In The Women of Easter, she takes us right into the days surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, where we find our contemporary concerns reflected in the faces of the women who witnessed His ministry firsthand. And we see for ourselves the love of a Savior who laid down His life so that we might live free. This book is the perfect companion for Easter and beyond!” Liz has also created a free Leader’s Guide to use The Women of Easter as a Bible study.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for their partnership in today’s devotion ]