‘Purposing Change’ Meditations: 21. Jesus’ Timing
Jn 11:6 “when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”
We have, today, to face the balancing act of faith and trust. Faith is when you hear God, and trust is when you don’t. Faith is responding to what you hear from God, trust is what you do, just holding on, when you don’t seem to be hearing anything from heaven or appear to be seeing signs of heaven moving on earth.
Frustration and failing hope always lurk just round the corner. We reach out in good faith. We pray, we speak, to seek to be obedient but sometimes it just seems we are in a waiting game and for the moment nothing seems to be happening. To counter such things we have to remember the Lord’s timing may require us to call for patience and perseverance from his resource bank.
The Lord always wants us to keep hold of the two-sided coin of faith: on one side is patience with peace that holds us steady, on the other is an unsatisfied yearning to see our loved ones saved and this makes us call more and more urgently on the Lord until He comes.
The story of the raising of Lazarus has a place in the armoury of faith and trust. Jesus and his disciples are clearly some way from Bethany but their location is well known and so when Lazarus appears to be dying, it seems easy to send a message to Jesus for him to come and heal him (Jn 11:3). When Jesus hears this he immediately catches a sense of the Father’s will: this will not end in the death of Lazarus. (v.4) He grasps that but no one else does.
One of the things to watch for in this story is the number of times there is misunderstanding or simply lack of understanding by the people involved. Perhaps a wise response in whatever our present situation is, is to recognise we don’t have the whole picture, we’re driving blind – except we DO have the Holy Spirit to show us the way. We need to link that recognition to the truth that Jesus does know what is happening, does know what the Father wants, does know what needs doing.
So when Jesus sits tight and doesn’t move to go to Lazarus, the first lack of understanding is seen in the disciples (v.8), then in Thomas (v.16 – or is it understanding?), then in Martha (v.24), then in Mary (v.32), then the crowd (v.37), then Martha again (v.39). Now all these instances of lack of understanding or misunderstandings can be boiled down to one truth: Jesus knew, they didn’t.
Without going deeper into the story, let’s just reiterate what we said earlier: this is all a balancing act of faith and trust. We have been thinking more than once about listening to God, watching what He might be doing in the circumstances of our loved not-yet-believers etc. and our desire is to hear and then be able to respond to what we hear, but sometimes either our ‘hearing’ is deficient, or Jesus simply isn’t speaking but is waiting. Sometimes he waits because he is waiting for circumstances to come in line, as we referred to in an earlier study on Abraham’s servant, but sometimes it is pure spiritual warfare.
Remember there are spiritual forces at work, just as Paul spoke about in Eph 6. Paul wrote about these things from a defensive standpoint, to help us stand against the whiles and attacks of the enemy, but the same things apply to seeking to get our loved ones to see the truth. It is a spiritual battle and our part is not only to be there for our not-yet-believer, but also to pray. Now here we have to remember that even Daniel had to pray for three weeks before he got help. (read Dan 10:1-19). With Jesus’ widow, (Lk 18:3) we need to keep on bothering the Judge. And as you wait, keep doing all the other stuff, and don’t be put off if heaven seems silent for a bit or nothing appears to be happening here – it is, it’s just you can’t see it for the moment. Perhaps, in the light of the story of Lazarus, it might be worth praying, “Lord, please open my eyes so that I can have some sense of your plan in all this and how you are going to work it out.” Yes? Let’s do it.