I was listening to the radio one morning when I heard a quote that was dead on. “The only thing harder than waiting on God is wishing you had.” So many of my regrets in life are because I tried to help God out as if somehow I could handle things better than He could. I failed to trust Him. I didn’t give Him room to show Himself faithful. I let impatience allow me to elevate myself to His level in my eyes.
Does God use people to accomplish His will? Absolutely. That wasn’t what I was doing though. I was trying to replace His will and His timing with my own. I was taking what was a good thing (what I was seeking God for) and making it the only thing. I couldn’t be happy unless I got the answer I was looking for and pretty much immediately at that. That’s idolatry. I put my desires above His. Instead of growing in the waiting, I shriveled and became very self-absorbed. I stopped believing He was listening and cared, not even seeing that I was the one that had put my will up as a wall between us. Is it any wonder I was so miserable?
In John 11, we are witnesses to the account of a sick man named Lazarus whose family summoned Jesus in hopes that He would heal him. Lazarus was loved by Jesus, yet Jesus delayed going. By the time He set out on the journey and made it there, Lazarus had been dead for four days. In some Jewish traditions, it was believed that the soul hovered around the body for three days before heading to the afterlife, after which time there was no longer any hope of resurrection, or that people could be mistaken for dead and be found alive within three days (https://www.sefaria.org/Tractate_Semachot.8.1?lang=bi). By the fourth day, all hope is lost of the loved one returning to them. This is the timing in which Jesus showed up. After all hope for resurrection or a mistaken declaration of death is gone, after the hope of Jesus healing Lazarus’ sickness is gone.
Even if the Jewish traditions hadn’t existed, we still have a family that sought Jesus for the healing of the man they deemed one Jesus loves. A family that no longer has any hope, only questions. I can only imagine the pain and confusion that they felt when Jesus didn’t show up until four days after Lazarus had died. How often have we felt that Jesus wouldn’t or didn’t show up on time in our lives? I don’t think that I’m alone when I say it seemed many times that He was too late. Yet, just as Mary and Martha witnessed, I’ve seen him resurrect things I thought dead. He’s healed relationships, healed hearts, healed minds.
Just as Mary and Martha were essentially asking “Jesus, where were you?” we often wonder the same thing. “Are you there, God?” “Do you hear me, can you see the pain I’m in? Do you care?” The answer to all of those questions is “YES!” The Bible tells us that ALL things work together for good to those that love God, to those that are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). If you are a child of God, this promise is for you. It does not say that all things are good. There are so many Biblical examples of situations that were not good (and we ALL have our own examples) but God used those situations for good.
I know all too well that when you’re deep in the heart of your most painful valleys, Romans 8:28 isn’t always what we find encouraging. If you find yourself there, I pray you find encouragement in some of these verses –
I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you. Isaiah 43:2
The LORD is the one who will go before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD is near all who call out to him, all who call out to him with integrity. Psalm 145:18
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Waiting is a given. God working out His plan for our lives is a given. The choice that we do have is what we do in the wait. Will we operate in trust and grow through the season of waiting or will we grumble and murmur as the Israelites did and draw out our season of waiting even longer? The Promised Land was worth the wandering, the answers I’ve received have been worth the wait, and whatever God is asking you to wait for will be worth it all too. Trust Him, call on Him, worship Him in the wait.