1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (John 11:1-6 NIV)
Jesus got word from Mary and Martha that their brother was sick. The sisters sent someone from Bethany to go to Jerusalem to find Jesus so He could come and heal their brother. I’m sure they expected Jesus to come immediately and raise Lazarus back to health, but John tells us that Jesus “stayed where he was two more days.” What could have possibly been more important than getting to Bethany as soon as possible? Lazarus needed to be healed, Mary and Martha needed to be relieved of all of their worry, and God needed to be glorified? What kept Jesus in Jerusalem? John doesn’t tell us. Jesus probably didn’t tell His disciples. Scripture is silent.
Jesus did say that Lazarus’ sickness was for a purpose and the purpose was “so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Mary and Martha would have preferred that Jesus be glorified by healing their brother, not by raising him from the dead. God didn’t ask Mary and Martha what they would prefer and God doesn’t ask us either.
I can get so frustrated with God when He doesn’t act as I want Him to act, when I need Him to act. In the twenty plus years that I have sat and listened to people I’ve learned that this frustration with God is something that most of us have in common. When we find ourselves in a jam, when our loved ones are ill, when we need God’s help–we pray and ask God to do something about it. Oftentimes God doesn’t act as speedily as we want Him to act. Oftentimes God doesn’t do what we ask Him to do. This should not alarm us, it shouldn’t cause us to turn away from God, but it should remind us of what He has told us in Scripture. In Isaiah 55, God says,
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
I’m learning that my plans are temporary. I’m too often living in the here-and-now. I’m looking for immediate deliverance from sorrow and suffering, but God’s got a much bigger plan for me…and for you. I can trust that His plan is not only bigger, but it is better.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will help me to remember that Your plan, and not my relief, is to be my heart’s desire.