Why Throw In The Towel – Behind the Scenery
There will be times when the issues in our lives seem of vital importance but the consensus is building slowly or is going against us. For some, it’s a dispute, for some its business, for some it might be their relationship with God and for others their plans or aspirations in life.
The expression “throwing in the towel” is derived from the sport of boxing. When a boxer is suffering a beating and his corner want to stop the fight they literally throw in the towel to indicate their conceding of the fight.
“Murphy went after him, landing the right and left undefended face. The crowd importuned referee Griffin to stop the fight and a towel was thrown from Burns’ corner as a token of defeat” – Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, January 1913.
Soon the phrase began to be used in a figurative sense, to indicate giving up in non-boxing context especially in our day-to-day living. You hear the phrase used in sentences such as, I started to workout to keep in shape but later threw in the towel early after spraining my ankle.
We give up or surrender as the case maybe because we do not have the strength to forge ahead, mainly because we believe that what we require can no longer be achieved because of one impediment or another. In other words we did not start with the intention of giving up but there are some issues that have/will come up and eventually, based on our postulations we give up and accept defeat.
Some of us have thrown in the towel on so many issues. I have thrown in the towel so many times and some are about to throw in the towel. However, we will read in this particular issue why we should not throw in the towel when the issue in question has a lot to do with our limited ways of viewing things, particularly when the drive isn’t or has nothing to do with our creator who is all knowing. He is everywhere and more so all- powerful.
We read the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus whom Jesus loved and in whose house He stayed whenever He visited Bethany. This particular family took care of Jesus anytime He was around. It was the same Mary who poured perfume on him, wiped His feet with her hair in prophetic preparation for His burial that is being referred to here. It was the same Martha who cooked for Jesus when He went to their house.
This family, described above had an issue: Lazarus was sick. The right thing for his sisters to do was to call on Jesus and because of the relationship Jesus had with this family, one would expect that Jesus would respond immediately and be on His way to them with the intention of solving the problem. Mary and Martha presented the problem saying “Lord, the one that you love is sick”. Paraphrasically, if God loves me, He should help me, heal me, and enrich me, just to cite a few examples. We believe that we have a right to tell God what we want Him to do for us rather than to look for His Will in our situations and circumstances. We always think there is something we must do to catalyse the heavens to invoke the blessing of God upon us. Note that Jesus heard their prayers and started to work towards the resolution of the said problem but in HIS own way. That’s the caveat.
Jesus responded to the question saying Lazarus’ sickness is not going to kill Him, that God is about to cause a revolution in the history of that country and the world through that situation. The contrast in resolution from both perspectives seems quite different. God wants to use their situation for a revolution in Bethany, throughout the Jewish community/culture even throughout the world. Mary and Martha want the recovery of their beloved brother Lazarus.
Who else would God use to achieve this phenomenal grandeur? The people He loves, Yes, His own people. If you have issues, it’s because God loves you and wants to use your issues for the display of His glory.
In the mind of Mary or Martha, Jesus should immediately be on his way to them but Jesus remained in the place where he was for another two days, making it three days. By this time Lazarus’ sickness will start to get worse and here comes the impatience of Mary and Martha even though they had prayed and God had heard their prayer. Sometimes I think we should just trust completely even unto death because the ways of God will always differ from the ways of men.
On the fourth day Jesus decided to go to Judea with his disciples. Now, before then they found themselves at Jordan because the Jews had sought to stone Jesus for asserting His deity. So, His disciples brought to His remembrance, asking him why He would go to a place where He was almost killed. In other words, why go back because Lazarus is sick, why become selfless in a selfish society, they indirectly asked Him. This is God’s love in action, unknown to Mary and Martha even as they plan to throw in the towel. Jesus replied His disciples that Lazarus was His friend and for a friend He will go back no matter what happens.
In addition to their predicament, Mary and Martha would have had all kinds of thoughts going through their mind: what have we done wrong, did we sin, why is Jesus not here, maybe we didn’t pray well, maybe his claim of love towards us isn’t really real, and our brother may just die. Please note that the confirmation of the five senses only obliterates faith. The more they saw Lazarus in this state, the less they thought about the plan of God for Lazarus.
Lazarus eventually dies and Jesus knew because he told his disciples that he wants to go and wake him up. He used sleep and eventually told them that he was dead. Not only was he dead, Jesus said to them that he was glad that he died because the disciples and city was about to witness the display of God’s glory making history.
Finally Mary and Martha threw in the towel because they had reason to. Their brother had died; what’s the point of holding on to the towel, after all they called for help and didn’t get it. Finally, Jesus arrives and because of Mary’s character, she sits down in the house and wouldn’t come out to see Jesus. Martha went to meet with Jesus and told him “if you had been here, our brother would still be alive”. This one time YOU have failed us, according to them.
Martha goes for Mary asking her to come and see Jesus. On getting there she said the same thing Martha said signifying that they had the same postulations, limited by their senses. The Jews around compounded their grief saying how can Jesus open blind eyes and ears and could not help in this situation, making a case for another round of stoning because they felt He blasphemed.
Unknown to all, going to the graveside was going to be the stage set by God. They all went there with them based on their custom that one was allowed to visit the grave side to weep for the dead. It was also, according to Talmudists that removing a stone after it had been placed on the grave was illegal. Besides other danger, they were apprehensive of legal impurity by contact with the dead. Martha again reminded Jesus about the stench not knowing the will of God in restoration.
Sometimes we throw in the towel because of ignorance, our limited knowledge about the One that calls into existence the things which are not in existence as if they do exist.
Jesus went with them and alas, He called Lazarus out of the grave and he was restored back to his family, confirming that all we have to do when we have a promise from God is to believe, because the One that promised is faithful. The Jews couldn’t continue in their making a case to kill him, many believed and the glory of God was evident.
The Bible stresses the fact that we were dead in trespasses and to be made alive, God will need to first raise us from the dead and put in us the desire to choose Him. Then, we can be saved and we will never die.
God thinks of how generations will benefit from your issue, while you seek to be delivered from the same issue without thinking about impacting the society at large.
Think twice before you throw in the towel, He just might be up to something.