Yet, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.
When a loved one is in trouble, don’t you just want to rush over and help? It’s a natural human instinct; this desire to rescue, or need to make things better. And yet, if you’ve ever raised a child, you know that sometimes you just have to wait. You hold back as the little ones learn the steps that will lead them into adulthood. Whether that is potty-training, tying shoelaces, feeding themselves, or some other task. Despite one’s inner impatience, or desire to help them, the parent figure knows that the struggle (up to a point) is good for them. It is necessary for their own sense of personal achievement. The struggle amps up their joy and satisfaction when they finally master the task. It strengthens their endurance and matures them.
When Lazarus fell ill, Mary and Martha, never doubted that Jesus would come quickly to help them. They knew how much he loved them (John 11:5). And yet, the Bible reveals, that when Jesus heard that Lazarus was ill, he waited two more days. Wait! What! Yes, you heard it right. “Yet, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” You have to wonder; didn’t Jesus love them? Didn’t he care? Mary and Martha must have wondered that too. The answer is simple really. It is because he loved them, and cared for them, that he refrained from rushing over to their side when grief struck their home. Jesus held back, so that pain could do its divine work in them. Anything less than perfect, divine love, would have rushed in to rescue them, and stop their grief right way. James writes: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1: 2-4).”
In like manner, sometimes when you and I are in trouble, Jesus waits. We may be impatient and even confused in our suffering, but Jesus isn’t. He waits so that suffering and pain can finish its work in us. He waits so that his Spirit can build compassion, patience, long-suffering, self-control and many other virtues of the Christian life in us. And if, like Mary and Martha, you’ve been wondering whether he cares or whether he loves you. He does, with a perfect, divine love that will not rescue you but will instead allow the trials and the tests of life to complete in you, what God himself has ordained in heaven. So, be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10). Be still and know, that he waits with you in your time of suffering and testing and he will not let you be tempted, beyond what you can endure (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for reminding me of your faithfulness. Thank you for reminding me that you love me no matter what. In the good times and in the rough times, you are the steady presence that holds me. Thank you for waiting so that your perfect work might be completed in me. All I ask for today, is strength for the journey. Amen.