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The Gift of Waiting

“Waiting is a gift, so wait. Jesus is coming, just not on your timing.” I don’t think that was what Mary and Martha would have been thinking was a loving an acceptable response when they sent the urgent message to Jesus that His dear friend Lazarus had fallen ill. This family of great faith, and love for Jesus, had no doubt that the only doctor they needed was the Son of God Himself. The author of Luke notates Jesus’ reciprocal deep affection for this family. And upon hearing the news of His friend, wait for it (no pun intended) it says Jesus remained two more day. Say what?! How was this loving? How could waiting, knowing that Lazarus would die be a good thing? How can waiting be a gift in our seasons of hopelessness, sickness and pain? Why would a loving God not step in and immediately rescue us from the hardships we face? And yet in my own journey of wrestling in the waiting, I have come to believe it’s one of the most loving acts of God to gift us the wait.

Jesus knew Lazarus would live again. He reassures the disciples and Lazarus sisters several times that Lazarus was just asleep. And but for this family’s faith, I think the words would have fallen a little short in this moment of utter hopelessness. I think the promises of God often do this when we are faced with a big red stop sign. In this world of instant everything, it’s easy to keep the faith when we can see the hand of God moving in our favor. And then when the wait sets in and we don’t feel like being patient any more, or we don’t feel so full of expectations because the time line we had in our minds isn’t panning out, then it’s not so easy to keep towing the line and believing in our good, good Father who is capable of incomprehensible miracles. We have seen them; we have heard of them. But for us, for this situation? Well, we begin to doubt.

We doubt Gods promises, His goodness, His faithfulness and His love. When the answers to our prayers don’t happen when we want and we are asked to dig in deep and anchor ourselves to an invisible God, our faith starts to fall short and we suddenly turn and blame the only one who is truly for us, God. But as I continue on in the story of Lazarus, I am reminded of the sincere love of my Savior as we get a behind the scene look into Jesus’ humanity as His heart breaks with those weeping and mourning the loss of their loved one.

When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was deeply moved in His spirit and troubled... Jesus wept.(John 11:33,35)

What a powerful image! This strikes me in such a radical way because Jesus knew He was about to do something earth shattering. He was going to call Lazarus from the tomb, and in doing so He would be sealing for all that would see and hear that He was indeed Messiah, come to die AND live again. To be not only the sacrificial Lamb, but the Resurrection and the Life. And here we find Him crying. His heart aching for those whose heart ached. Overwhelmed with compassion for those who He loved so dearly. Those He came to die for and save. He hurt for the people who He never wanted to experience this kind of pain or to feel the ache of death. And while knowing He was going to give victory not only to this moment, but to the entire world, still He wept.

In our greatest moments of heartbreak and adversity, when our patience has run out, when we have sent the message to Jesus and waited not 2 days, but 20 years, I believe with all of my heart that Jesus still weeps with us. His heart still breaks for the broken, for you. For your pain and your story and how it was never meant to be this way. It was not His best and so He came and gave His life so those seasons of hurt don’t have to be the end of our story.

And how thankful I am the story doesn’t end with Jesus’ weeping. I am so glad the story doesn’t end when our Lords body was laid in the tomb. And how I jump and shout with praise that in the victory He gave us the day He rose means our stories are not over when we are lost in the grief of our current circumstances. He is not finished. Even as He is close to our broken hearts and has compassion and empathy for our pain, He is still our Almighty God who sees the beginning from the end and does not lose hope! He rolls the stone away and calls Lazarus out of the tomb to live another day. And in doing so, God got all the glory!

In the beginning of the passage when Jesus receives the news of His friend’s illness, He tells the disciples that, “this sickness will not end in death but is for the Glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” God’s timing is perfect and sometimes that is easier to accept than others. Had Jesus shown up any earlier, He would have been able to heal Lazarus and spare this family the grief of death. But then the greater glory of showing the world He was capable of raising the dead days after death would not have been able to be put on display. If Mary and Martha had lost faith and turned Jesus away at His arrival, this story would have had a different ending. And many of ours do. We stop praying. We stop believing. We grow bitter and cold, forgetting what a big God we serve and His power to do the impossible if we just believe. And our belief, our love for Him and dependence on Him, this is exactly where His glory is best manifested through our testimonies.

In this story, waiting was a gift, on so many levels. Just think of all that would have been missed had Jesus showed up on time. They sisters and apostles would have missed out on deepened their faith, a faith that still works in our lives today. We wouldn't have seen a side of Jesus we need as we walk our own journey's. And if not for the wait, the greater miracle proving Jesus would rise again on the 3rd day, would not have taken place. And all this happened in a way that gave God the greatest glory possible in every facet of the story.

In my own life I buck against the wait. Waiting for my kids to sleep through the night or grow out of their temper tantrums. Waiting for God to heal the impossible and restore my broken heart. Waiting for restoration and peace or for truth to be brought to light. I don’t like being patient and trusting the plan. I’d rather grab the reigns and show God my time line that is clearly more efficient and will save everyone some pain and worry. Because, let’s face it, waiting is hard! Especially when we are hurting and life feels like it’s spinning out of control. But when I finally reach the other side and can look back on all that I learned in the seasons of life on pause, or desert time outs, I can see God’s hand was always working. Sure, I could have called an Uber and sped my way through, but I would have missed out on so much that God taught me along the way. Perseverance, stamina, faith, humility, self-control, a love that covers a multitude of sins and a will not of my own to rise again after ever fall and face the next battle with a greater tenacity than ever before. I know I would have missed so much God wanted to teach me if I had lost faith, turned away when He “finally” showed up, or rushed past to another “savior” when God didn’t turn up “on time”. And no matter how hard the journey was, or painful the circumstances got, I can see Jesus with me in every part of it, crying with me even as He was leading me to victory. Yes, as I look back now, how thankful I am for the wait that taught me so much about Jesus and has strengthened my faith for whatever I face next. Because of the wait I got to see the biggest miracles that were far beyond anything I could have conjured up on my own. God truly stole the show and got all the glory and I just get to sit back and marvel at His goodness to me, "be still and know that I am God", has taken on a whole new meaning though this process.

So be still and KNOW Him. Snuggle in close for the journey and see your Father's heart that is so full of love for you. For the wait can be a gift for you too if you will let it. IF you will trust your story to your Abba Father, on His time. Not yours. Believing that He already knows the beginning from the end and has a good and perfect plan for every detail of your days. Knowing that even as He actively walks towards the miracle with you, He weeps with you and longs to comfort your heart. And trusting that He will do what He has promised in His time so that the Father can get all the glory in and through your story. Because He is just that good that He can do all this, even as you wait.

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