Lord. Come. | John 11.3
So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” John 11:3 | ESV
So the sisters sent to Jesus for help, imploring him from his death bed via messenger: “Lord, your friend, the one you love, well, he’s sick, his life ebbing away.” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
“Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
This one makes it into our calendars.
So full of promise, bursting with hope and expectation.
You’d think James had seen this happen a few times or something.
And it does.
But Trophimus was still left in Miletus.
And Lazarus is still sick.
The sisters do exactly what James says to do. When you’re sick don’t just reach for a prescription, reach for prayer; don’t just seek the doctor’s scope, look for the robe of a saint.
2 Chronicles 16 tells the story of King Asa.
Much faith and piety.
But in his later years when in a jam politically, prayer became a token, and forming a political alliance with Syria the real point of leverage and faith for him. And when rebuffed by the prophet for it, he condemned him to prison, and simultaneously “inflicted cruelties on some of the people.” Then as he neared the end of his life, after contracting a disease in his feet, he sought only the doctor’s care.
We have a tendency to put faith and science, prayer and medicine at odds with one another. The reality is they are partners and we can become dangerously unbalanced whenever the one is allowed to eclipse the other.
James tells the sick to call for the elders and anointing and prayer.
Paul tells Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach sake and his frequent illnesses.
Life is a dance filled with divergent themes.
Contrasting rhythms, blending instruments, partnered means, but one Grand Composer and Conductor.
I would imagine Martha and Mary were much like us. When their brother was sick they prayed and they applied whatever means at hand to alleviate his suffering and reverse his condition. And when death seemed near, they scoured the countryside for Jesus.
And here is the bottom line of our faith response: when sick we must resist the temptation to pull in and isolate; we must look outward and upward as we do our best to go onward.
There are none.
Except that he loves.
And that’s why we call.
That’s why as long as it is still day and then into the wee hours of the night,
What is the most serious illness you personally have encountered? How did you handle it?
Where did you turn? What got you through?
Abba, keep me from tunneling in interminably when I’m faced with debilitating illness in myself or others. Show me how and where to find breathing space, to at least glance upward and outward. Draw me out of myself and the pit I can feel trapped in so I can move onward in it, through it,
beyond it. Through Christ.