Yet when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days. – John 11:6
Delays in our life are not always easy to handle or to reconcile in our minds. Often, when God does not answer our prayers in the time that we feel He should, we appoint all sorts of characteristics to God’s nature that imply He does not care. Such was the case with Lazarus’ sisters when Lazarus became ill and died. Jesus was a close friend to Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha. (Mary, you may recall, was the woman who came and poured perfume on Jesus’ feet.) When Jesus arrived two days later, Martha shamed Him by saying, “If You had come he would not have died.” She implied that He didn’t care enough to come when sent for. It was a matter of priorities for Jesus, not lack of love.
God often has to delay His work in us in order to accomplish something for His purposes that can be achieved only in the delay. Jesus had to let Lazarus die in order for the miracle that was about to take place to have its full effect. If Jesus had simply healed a sick man, the impact of the miracle would not have been as newsworthy as resurrecting a man who had been dead for four days. This is Jesus’ greatest “public relations act” of His whole ministry. What many do not realize is that the key to the whole story is in the next chapter.
Many people, because they had heard that He had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet Him. So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after Him!” (John 12:18-19)
If Jesus had not raised Lazarus from the dead, there would have been no crowds to cheer the Lord when He came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
God often sets the stage so that His glory is revealed through the events that He orchestrates. He did this with Moses and Pharaoh, allowing delay after delay for release of the Israelites from Egypt. He did this with Abraham and Sarah for the promised child, Isaac. God granted Sarah a baby past the age of childbearing in order to demonstrate His power.
God did this in my own life. He delayed the fulfillment of what I believed He called me to do for several years. But the delays provided the necessary preparation and greater glory that God was to receive. My friend, don’t take the delays lightly. Do not faint as God places you in what seems to be a holding pattern. God is at work. God knows the purposes for His delays. Don’t give up, for they are for His greater glory; so we need to remain faithful.