January 13 Divine delay shows God’s glory

John 11:4-6 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (NIV)

Jesus had just received the message that His friend, Lazarus, was seriously unwell. Instead of showing anxiety, as we might have done, He simply responds that God would be glorified. The end of the story would not be his death, but that all would see that Jesus really was God’s Son. He was not at all callous or indifferent to the suffering of Lazarus, or the anxiety Martha and Mary were experiencing, but He knew it was important not to answer their call immediately. We know from the narrative that Lazarus did die, probably about the time when Jesus received the message, and yet Jesus remained miles away for two more days.

In many cultures, care is shown by immediate action, and any delay is a sign of indifference. But Jesus knew it was essential that He did not react immediately: it was necessary for Lazarus to be undeniably dead for four days before Jesus miraculously gave him new life (John 11:39). This would demonstrate God’s power to raise the dead; and to prepare His followers for His own God-authorised resurrection. But the narrative makes plain that although He deeply loved the family and was grieved at their distress, it was essential for them to go through the ordeal of bereavement so that they might experience Jesus’ ability to defeat Satan’s power over death and liberate those who are bound by their anxiety about death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Our anxious hearts often tremble when God delays His answer. But we should not fear. He always knows every circumstance; He deeply loves those who suffer, but He has a higher purpose than simply resolving our problems. For if our troubles were solved the moment we cried, we would not need to develop faith: we might think that God was at our command allowing us to claim glory for ourselves. Whereas, it is most important that Jesus is glorified – because only then will we be truly satisfied.

We should interpret God’s delay as disinterest, but rather use the time gap to grow in faith. The testing of our faith is essential if we are to mature as believers (1 Peter 1:3-9). So do not be discouraged when prayers do not seem to be answered. God knows what He is doing in our circumstances and in our hearts!

God of all wisdom and power. Thank You for Your deep love and compassion for those who suffer; and that You always take action at the right time. I am sorry for the times when I have been anxious, through the waiting times, instead of trusting. Please help me to grow in confidence that You will answer every prayer when the time is right, so that I will mature in my faith and You will be glorified. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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