Some prayers are so big, and God has such a surprising answer for us, that He keeps us waiting for the manifestation. – Oswald Chambers
“Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” – John 11:5-6
One of my favourite stories in the Bible is the story of Lazarus. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus, and he became very sick. Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, knew right away whom to call.
John 11:3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
But what did Jesus do?
John 11:6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
Jesus knew already that Lazarus was sick yet, He did not respond right away! He did not rescue Lazarus or heal him right away. Jesus waited for two more days! He did not do anything.
Mary and Martha must have had many questions in their hearts: Why is He not coming? Where is He? What’s taking Him so long? Is He mad at us? Did we offend Him? Is He punishing us? Why so silent? Does Jesus really care? Is He abandoning us now?
I love how John the Beloved puts it:
John 11:5ff Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
Oftentimes, when God is silent, when God is not doing anything about our situation, the quickest, the easiest conclusion to make is that He doesn’t love us!
When God is not answering our prayers, when God is not doing the miracle we asked, when He is not changing our financial condition or our health problems, when God is not changing our spouse or our children and He allows them to give us pain, we need to remember: God loves us, BUT He has a higher purpose, a great purpose for not answering our prayer right away!
So what happened to Lazarus? We know the story. Jesus waited for two days, knowing that when He got there, Lazarus would be dead. We may say, “How cruel of Jesus! Why did He have to wait for Lazarus to die before he showed up? Jesus really loves seeing us go through the agony of waiting!”
When Jesus arrived in Bethany where Mary and Martha lived, the body of Lazarus was already sealed in the tomb! It seemed like a hopeless case. In this kind of situation, logic would tell us to: “Stop believing, it’s pointless.” But as always, Jesus is not yet finished!
John 11:38ff 38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39″Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Why did Jesus have to wait for Lazarus to die and smell and rot in the grave? Clearly, as one person said, “When God wants to do something good, He starts with a difficulty, BUT when He wants to do something great, He starts with an impossibility!”
John 11:40-43 40Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
A lot times, God will not act right away, God will delay His answer, God will be silent and do nothing. He even allows our situation to get worse. Why? So He can do greater miracles! Why? So God will be glorified! And when He is glorified, people will believe!
God wants to be glorified in our circumstances, but we have to be patient. As we wait for God to move, ours is to pray: Lord, in this struggle, be glorified! Lord, in this problem, be glorified! Lord, in this pain, be glorified! Again, if we want God to be glorified, we must wait, we must be patient!
Watchman Nee said “Haste is a symptom of the desires of one who neither knows how to wait on the Lord nor is familiar with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, God never performs anything hurriedly; consequently He will not entrust His power to the impatient. Haste is clearly the work of the flesh.”
Keep praying, keep believing, keep waiting, and in His own perfect time, He will show you that indeed He is a miraculous God. As you patiently wait for God’s answer, remember that you are loved by God. In fact, God already did the greatest miracle, to show us that we’ve never been unloved!