A Delay When it Seemed to Matter Most

A Delay When it Seemed to Matter Most

Dan Wolgemuth


Patience. Waiting. And not with toe tapping and clock watching. But resting in God’s sovereign timing. This is NOT an area of strength for me. In fact, there may be no more confession inducing activity in my life. Perhaps that’s why I empathize with the urgency, disappointment and subsequent frustration that’s expressed in the story told in John 11.

“Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” (John 11:3, NLT)

A message inside a message. That’s what Mary and Martha were doing when they sent this urgent communication to Jesus.

My translation would be… “Jesus, your very good friend, Lazarus, is on death’s doorstep. You’re a healer, you’re our close friend. You heal people you don’t know, surely you’ll expedite a visit. We need you… NOW!”

Jesus’ reaction to this pressing and personal request? He hung out for two more days where He was. He delayed. Not as a miscalculation, but an intentional act of love.

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. (John 11:5–6, ESV)

Jesus loved these three. That was never the question. He also loved the disciples who were studying His every move.

So, four days after Jesus’ close buddy dies, He shows up. Four days.

Then, Jesus heals the man. Lazarus is once again breathing and conversing and healthy. Yet, in the meantime, Mary and Martha have gone through the torturous process of watching their brother die… knowing that they have a direct connection with the Healer.

Was this an act of insensitivity? Did a jammed schedule force this?

Make no mistake… Jesus had an agenda… He always does. His agenda wasn’t to flex His healing muscles… to up the ante. He wasn’t there to upgrade His miracle performing status. No, He had a clear and different agenda. An agenda with eternal implications.

The reality is that Jesus’ resurrection action only had temporary impact. At some point, Lazarus died… again. And so did Mary and Martha. Jesus’ objective wasn’t to become the human fountain of youth. No, His agenda was clear, “… so that you will believe…” (John 11:15)

That was His agenda then, and it’s His agenda still.

His timing, or lack thereof, is intentional. It’s faith constructing, hope inspiring, patience stretching, belief invoking.

With a whisper from miles away Jesus could have healed Lazarus, and with the healing, saved His friends from pain and grief. Yet, going through the gauntlet of shattered hopes and dreams wasn’t collateral damage, it was the point.

Trust isn’t built when Jesus adopts my calendar. It’s built when I trust His calendar. His timing. His plan.

I’m enrolled in the classroom of patience-stretching faith. Do I trust Jesus, even when my highest priorities have flatlined? Even when air no longer inflates the lungs of my plans?

Lord help me. To wait. To trust. To rest in the perfect plan of Jesus. My Savior. My Friend. My time-keeper.

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