Friday, January 18, 2013

When God Is Late

There isn't anything that God can't do, so why isn't he doing something?

John 11:1-6   A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”

4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days.

An urgent message comes to Jesus from his friends Mary and Martha. Their brother, whom Jesus loves, is deathly ill and they are pretty sure that Jesus will want to help him out but Jesus has a bigger plan than they could have known about.

Instead of rushing off to perform a miracle in person Jesus tells his disciples that there is a reason that Lazarus is suffering, he allows Lazarus to endure the pain and misery that led to his death, and not just Lazarus, his sisters would take care of him until be breathed his last breathe and they would deal with the emotions of losing their brother. Jesus tells his disciples that this family is suffering for God's glory and then he stays right where he is.
John 11:12-15 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
A lot of people were not happy with Jesus and his choices, the disciples didn't like the idea that Jesus finally wanted to go to Bethany because not too long ago a crowd wanted to stone him, Mary and Martha blamed Jesus for the emotional distress of caring for their dying brother, the sorrow of seeing him die and having a funeral.

Sometimes we aren't very pleased with God or sometimes the way that he is working in our lives makes no sense to us. It seems that our request get ignored just like the messengers that were sent to tell Jesus about Lazarus.
John 11:40-44 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside.

Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
What we need to realize is that it's not all about us but rather it is all about God, like Mary and Martha, we will say, "God, if you loved me, you would do this." But God says, "I want to do something bigger." Jesus may have sounded insensitive when he said that he was glad that he wasn't there to help but Jesus had a bigger and better plan; he was probably thinking , "wait until you see this."

The reason for the delay? The reason for the prayer before the miracle? Both of them were for us so that we would see God's glory.

We are heirs of God's glory!

Romans 8:17-18  And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.  18  Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.  
We can't see the big picture from our point of view. The waiting didn't make any sense to Abraham as he was waiting for a son, it didn't make sense to God's children as they waited for Pharaoh to give in, and it didn't make any sense to them as they circled Jericho for a week before they attacked.

God's delays prove to be for our benefit, they help to increase our faith, they change our perspective towards heaven and they allow us to see God at work in a bigger way.
Psalms 121:2-4  My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!  He will not let you stumble; the One who watches over you will not slumber.  Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

1 Peter 5:6-7  So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.  Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
God has proven himself to be faithful and when he can't see him at work or we don't have a clue what he is doing we know that we have every reason to trust him and his promises.

Inspired by an Andy Stanley podcast: When God, Part Three - When God Is Late