So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 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.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. (John 11:3-6)
Waiting on the Lord’s timing is definitely not an easy thing to do, but it’s necessary in order for us to develop spiritual maturity. Isaiah 64:4 tells us that God acts on behalf of those who wait on Him, and when we are willing to wait on His timing – instead of our own – we will have an opportunity to experience His best.
In John 11, we see Martha and Mary sending Jesus Christ a message on behalf of their sick brother. From their human perspective, there were only two options: Jesus would either heal Lazarus or Lazarus would die.
When Jesus heard the message, He responded by saying that Lazarus’s sickness would not end in death. That was always the plan. God knew that Lazarus would get sick, and He allowed the sickness to take Lazarus all the way into his grave. Martha and Mary watched their brother take his last breath, had a funeral for him and were going through the stages of mourning for him. How could this possibly have been the best plan? Christ could’ve easily healed Lazarus, His “dear friend”, and spared all of the ones He loved from experiencing the grief that they surely suffered. They were most certainly brokenhearted that Jesus stayed away when they needed Him most.
Christ said something in the passage above that would’ve been easy for them to overlook in the urgency of their request and the seemingly casual way that He responded, but is incredibly important for us to remember when we are waiting on the Lord for answers to prayer. He said, “Lazarus’s sickness happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”
When life’s disappointments come, remember that a ‘no’ from God only means that there is something better that will come from the situation than what you are asking for. In fact, He is willing to see you disappointed today in order to give you His best for tomorrow. In the end, every single ‘no’ we get as an answer to prayer is ultimately for His glory and our good. Fortified with that knowledge, we can face disappointments with a new perspective, waiting in anticipation for the “best” that God has for us.
We may plan and dream, but the outcome of our lives is up to God. Our perspective is too limited to be able to add in any way to the perfect plan that He already has for each of us. Waiting requires that we accept the Lord’s work in our lives, resist the temptation to set our own timeline and surrender what seems like an immediate need completely into His hands. Psalm 25:3 tells us that no one that waits on Him will ever be put to shame. What an awesome promise!
Even when the game appears to be over and our situation has gotten much worse than we ever imagined it could be, when we have endured the sickness and for all intents and purposes have been numbered among the dead – there is reason to hope in God. Because NOTHING is impossible with Him.
What seems impossible to you today? Sickness, barrenness, bullying, broken relationships, legal issues, singleness, parenting, guilt, addiction, shame, abuse, loss of loved ones, difficulties in school, a situation at work or with a family member? He can heal you. He is able to fix it and make it mean something.
I love the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. According to ancient Jewish custom, there were seven kinds of people that were considered a disgrace among God’s people. At the top of the list? “A Jew who has no wife, or a Jew who has a wife and no child.” Elizabeth was an aging women, gray haired and barren. Being childless must have weighed heavily on this couple, but in spite of their barrenness we see that both Zacharias and Elizabeth were both righteous in the sight of God and walked blamelessly before Him.
I don’t want to go too deep into this passage today, but one of my favorite testimonies in the Bible is from Luke1:25 (after Elizabeth learns that she is pregnant) – “Look what the Lord has done for me! My people were ashamed of me, but now the Lord has taken away that shame.”
It is very easy to lose perspective, run away from God’s plan and try to manipulate the situation. But when we step out of God’s will, we experience disappointment and miss out on what He longs to give us. For Zacharias and Elizabeth, waiting for a child meant that they would parent the man who would eventually become the Forerunner of the Messiah. For Lazarus and his family, sickness and death provided an opportunity to experience God’s hand working a miracle in their lives and witness to all who were around them. Verse 43 and 44, Then Jesus shouted, Lazarus, come out! 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”.
God is full of surprises. He specializes in surprises – especially in ones that seem impossible. God loves to do the things that we have absolutely no power to do, and that’s the way He has planned our lives.
With men this (insert your biggest problem here) is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)