When God takes too long
Lazarus was dead. And Jesus waited. Four days, to be exact. That is past sort of dead to all the way, tomb closed up dead. Past the point of “God’s got a plan” to, “Well this must be God’s plan.”
I’ve been there. Trying desperately to rationalize why I’m here, where God is, why he didn’t do it the way that seemed right…
Jesus waited on purpose. That struck me as I read this story for the hundredth time. First because He understood His power. He knew that He wasn’t limited by “number of days someone has been dead.” He wasn’t worried. But this wasn’t the only reason he waited. He said it plainly to the disciples in John 11:14
“Lazarus is dead. And for your sake, I”m glad I wasn’t there, because now you have another opportunity to see who I am so that you will learn to trust in me.”
Oh. OH. Could it be that this story is about trust more than it is about the power on display? The power is extraordinary, there is no denying that. But power does not always bring about the fruit of trust.
If it did, hundreds would have stood at the foot of the cross in mourning.
Jesus knew what He was going to do. I don’t believe He was ever surprised by His assignment. He knew Lazarus was going to live. He said as much. It’s the trust part that I’m meditating on today. Jesus said it plainly that He was glad it was taking so long, because it would just reinforce WHO He was and hopefully deepen the trust His disciples had in Him.
How often do I get frustrated because the answer seems delayed? Too often. I wish I always immediately thought to trust Jesus first. But, I find that more often I am just like the disciples, trying to explain to Jesus why this is a terrible idea, or why He seems to be unaware of the circumstances. The reality is that He is delaying often, simply to show me how much I can trust Him. That’s something to think about.
Delay is not denial.
More often, delay is God waiting so that we will know who He is, and trust Him. Now, sometimes there is flat out denial because God is doing something different than we expect or want, but even denial is for our good, if we are devoted to Jesus.
So what do we do during a delay?
We set our eyes on Jesus. We ask, “What are you like?” and we let that season of waiting be about discovering more of Him. Asking questions is a beautiful way to engage with Jesus. He loves our questions. He isn’t afraid of our doubt, and He wants to hear our lamenting.
If you find yourself in what appears to be a delay of provision, just remember that you cannot possibly want your good more than God. He is far more invested in your future than even you. He staked his son’s life on it. In the delay, Jesus is saying to us what he said to the disciples when they faced the death of Lazarus.
“Now you have an opportunity to see who I am so that you will learn to trust me.”
author. Bible teacher. trauma healing facilitator.