“Patience is a virtue.”
This is a true statement in many ways. Patience is something that many have little of these days. We live in a “Burger King society”: have it your way, right away. While that may be a reasonable expectation of a food establishment, it is not the best expectation from God. There is a tendency to let this mentality seep into our walk with God… to expect Him to get on our timetable and agenda.
When God does not get in our timetable and agenda (which is perfectly fine because He alone is God), it rattles us and makes us wonder what is going on. We may ask questions like: “Did I miss something?” “Why isn’t God doing anything?”
There is a reason that God waits. We may not see it at the moment, but there is a reason. We may not like the reason, but there is a reason. Will we wait and see the reason, or will we throw aside the opportunity to see something greater?
In John 11, there is a desperate situation. A dear friend of Jesus, Lazarus, had fallen sick. This was not a casual sickness. Lazarus is on his deathbed. As Jesus heard about the news of his friend and his sickness, He talks about God receiving glory for this event (John 11:4).
As John continues sharing about the events, he is careful to mention how Jesus loved this family (John 11:5). Martha. Mary, and Lazarus were very close to Jesus. They were near and dear to His heart. This would make the very next verse sound so strange:
So when [Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (John 11:6 CSB)
Why in the world would Jesus stay where He was instead of going to the rescue of His dear friend? From how the Bible continues this story, I can imagine that Martha and Mary were asking the same thing. While the waiting that Jesus does here in John 11:6 seems strange and out of place, it is exactly what Jesus should have done.
The very first word in John 11:6 is the word that is commonly translated in English texts as “so.” This is a reference word. It lets us know what is coming next is tied to what has just been said. John 11:5 tells us that Jesus loves this family dearly. It is for that reason that Jesus waits holds His ground for two whole days. I imagine that those days felt like an eternity.
Jesus looked past the opportunity to do just another healing… He looked for the way to demonstrate the fullness of His love. Jesus looked to defeat death. Healing from a bad sickness is one thing, but bringing someone back from the grave is a whole other thing.
The why behind Jesus’ wait in John 11 was love. God’s heart reaching out to show this love in the clearest and strongest manner possible. What is more powerful and definite than death? The love that God has towards those who follow Him is greater. Jesus had to wait in order to make this statement loud and clear: Jesus is Lord over all (even death) and He loves you greatly.
If Jesus had run to the rescue and healed Lazarus from this dreaded sickness, it would have been great. But to have Jesus say, “Ain’t no grave keeping you from me!” Now that is something worth waiting for.
You may find yourself in a position where you are wondering what n the world is God up to. You may be thinking that He has forgotten you or worse, He is just ignoring you. Know this: He has not forgotten you… He’s not ignoring you… He may just be working something out that you have no clue about. Trust Him and see what He does. The wait is always worth it.