How to Live through God’s Delays
Read John 11:3-4, 5-6
So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (ESV)
Studying John 11:1-27
How do you ordinarily respond when someone close to you needs your help in an emergency? Do you take a vacation or deliberately stall for time? Of course, most people stop what they are doing and as quickly as possible go to be with their friend or loved one. Even if we are not in position geographically or physically to respond immediately, we might make plans to go to them as quickly as possible.
Jesus was a good friend to the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. In fact, the Scriptures show he visited them often in Bethany. They had a close relationship. They were more than acquaintances but loved and cared about the welfare of one another. Maybe that’s what made it doubly hard when Jesus did not come right away after Lazarus died. Martha was clearly upset and did not try to hide her pain or disappointment in Christ, the healer Jesus. She had confidence that if he had come on time her brother would still be alive.
Like Martha and Mary, we all must learn to accept and live with God’s delays. We won’t always understand agree with nor like them. Our lives might be turning upside down and inside out, our situations might be dire, our circumstances may have never looked bleaker so we go to the One we know can do something about our upside down, inside out, super-duper emergency: Christ. After all, he has promised to come help us. We pray, but what happens when Jesus does not show up right away? How do we live with that? As we look closely to Jesus’ reaction and response to the grieving sisters in the Gospel of John it can help us to understand more clearly whenever God does not respond to our need with an immediate response: it means he has something awesome, fantastic, supernatural, and out of the ordinary in mind for us. Whatever it is God will be glorified and our lives will be all the better for his delay and timing.
The way we live through the delays of God is to put all our trust, hope, and confidence in God. To remember his promises of care and covering. To remember he knows better than we ever could the best way to work through or handle our situation and we can remember he is never late but always on time, even when it feels like he’s taking forever to move or act. We can remember his promises never to do anything that will hurt us, and he will never bring destruction to us. God is not our enemy. He is not the devil or Satan coming to kill, steal or destroy. But he is God, who gives life and abundantly. He enters so the miraculous and wondrous can be experienced through our need and situation. The way we live through God’s delays is by keeping our hand in his and living in faith and trusting in his promises and perfect timing.
Meditating on John 11:3-4
Is there any part of what Jesus told the Mary and Martha for you today? As you meditate on today’s passage is there anything that makes you rethink the way you’ve been feeling about the timing of God of the purposes of his delays?
Praying John 11:3-4
Jesus it might be said that the way you answer our prayers is unconventional. As we wait on you, whenever we must wait on you for longer than we’d like, may we remember your delays are always for a reason and will always glorify the Father and bring good to us, even when we can’t see nor understand these things right away. Amen