Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was (JN 11.5-6).
These two sentences seem to contradict each other. The first says that Jesus loved his friends. Yet when he hears of Lazarus’ serious illness, rather than responding, he waits two days longer, and Lazarus dies. That doesn’t sound like love to me. Wouldn’t it have been more loving for the Great Physician to rush to the aid of his friends?
But Jesus delays precisely because of his love for them, for he has something far better in mind than simply healing Lazarus. He aims to display his glory by raising Lazarus from the dead. He will demonstrate that he is the Resurrection and the Life, the omnipotent God who speaks a word and raises the dead, just like he spoke and created the galaxies.
Sometimes God delays to answer our requests because he intends to reveal his glory in a greater way than we can imagine.
I recently heard the senior pastor of a large church share that when he was a teen he rejected his parents and their faith. “All I wanted was to be left alone,” he said. One family reunion he refused to leave the family van, but sat there in a black funk all day in the cold rather than join the family. Even when his grandmother cajoled him to come in he rebuffed her.
Yet in time, God led him to the cross. Now he’s leading a church.
I’m sure his folks prayed for his salvation from birth and would have preferred that Jesus save him as a child. But by rescuing him later in life, Christ displayed his almighty power to redeem the hellbound and hardened, giving hope to hundreds of parents.
So whatever you’re praying for, don’t give up, even if it seems like nothing’s happening. Jesus is planning something greater than you can imagine.