The Lord's Delays
When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. ~John 11:6
How well do you respond to an unexpected delay in your schedule? Life is filled with many unexpected delays. I am thinking about the delays that we experience standing at the checkout counter of a store due to customers ahead of us who seem to take a long time to process their items. I think of delays on our already-congested freeways due to accidents or commuting. I think of the delays when we travel by airplane. I just returned from preaching for a dear pastor friend in Arkansas. My connecting flight from Las Vegas to Oakland was delayed in departure by four hours. There were no other flights I could change to. I was concerned, but I did not complain. I thanked the Lord for this delay and saw it as His means of building me.
There is the reaction to delays.
Delays cause us frustration. We become late to appointments or scheduled events. Delays cause us doubt about a future outcome. In Martha and Mary’s case, they said to Jesus, “If thou hadst been here....” They sent a message to Jesus to come to the side of their brother. However, Jesus waited two days. As they waited, Lazarus grew worse and, sadly, passed away. During the waiting time, their faith in God’s power diminished. They assumed the mindset that Jesus could not change the outcome, but their thinking was based on faulty assumptions. They assumed that Jesus, in His power, was limited. They assumed that there was no good purpose that would come out of this situation. They allowed the circumstances that unfolded to change their spirit and view about God. Delays reveal a lot about where we are spiritually. Is there a delay that you are experiencing in your life that is morphing your concept of God?
There is the reason for delays.
Delays are part of God’s providence at work in our life. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus’ sickness was not unto death, but for the glory of God. Delays are part of God’s working to bring glory to Himself. God has a perfect timing about everything He does. God’s delays are His way of demonstrating His love for us. Many times, we pray and ask God to do something for us without considering first what we need the Lord to do within us. We must remember that God wants to change our heart before He changes our health. Martha and Mary were burdened, sad, and overwhelmed. They assumed that the Lord’s love for them (v. 5) gave them preference over others for a powerful work of God. Their assumption is how we think as well. We must remember that God, in His mercy and love, works in us that which is well-pleasing in His eyes, and not that which benefits our feelings and circumstances. Let us not forget that delays are God’s love in action for a bigger purpose.
There is the result in delays.
Delays increase our faith. Martha, Mary, and the Jews learned a powerful lesson about faith that day. They learned that faith must be completely unreserved and without interference. They were convicted of how small, limited, and faulty their faith was. Delays produce a greater product for the glory of God. There are two results that stand out in my mind. The first is that the Jews that were there obeyed the Lord’s command to roll the stone away from the mouth of the cave. This delay opened their eyes to great boulders that impeded progress. We must realize that before God will work, the boulders of sin, unbelief, and faulty thinking need to be rolled away. The second is that a large number of people believed on the Lord (John 11:45; 12:11).
The Lord’s delays are not the Lord’s denials. They are His love working a much greater product for us that will glorify Him. His delays are His scripting of a story with a much better ending than we hope for. Don’t be discouraged when there is a delay: just keep praying, waiting, and watching!
Have a hopeful God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Ezekiel 43-45