Six is the number of seconds the average person will wait for a website to load on their phone before abandoning it. Fifteen is the number of minutes most are willing to wait on a table at a restaurant. And a blink is how long a handful of you will wait at a traffic light before honking the horn at some rando who isn’t paying attention enough to notice that the light just turned green.
The other sector of you remaining are probably those who miss the light change because you’re checking Instagram.
We are an impatient group of people. Living in this day and age doesn’t help us when it comes to our capacity to tolerate time delays. The digital world demands instant access followed by an immediate reaction. Social media dictates that we like, heart, share or comment within moments of posting before it becomes obsolete in an hour. We are trained to believe that waiting on something is ridiculous. Unless, of course, the waiting involves the intricacies of your own life. At that point, the ridiculous borders on torture.
Someone who knew this feeling all too well was Martha. She and her sister Mary and their brother Lazarus were good friends of Jesus. But there was one day when that friendship was tested. It was the day Lazarus got sick. Really sick.
On the surface, this problem looks like a no-brainer. Simply send someone to find Jesus so He can come and heal Lazarus. Problem solved.
The girls did just that. And Jesus stayed away. In fact, while Jesus was bumming around with His disciples performing miracles and serving other families, Lazarus died.
Fact: Jesus could have made it back to Lazarus in time to heal His friend.
Fact: He chose not to.
Fact: This reality makes me extremely uncomfortable.
We pick up the story in John 11:17 when Jesus strolls into the town of Bethany four days after Lazarus has been placed in the tomb. Scripture tells us that droves of people came out to comfort Mary and Martha at the loss of their brother. It’s clear that Lazarus was loved. His family was loved as well.
It’s too bad the One the sisters had been waiting on arrived too late to do anything.
Martha wastes no time laying into Jesus. She demands to know His excuse because if He had been where He was asked to be, Lazarus would be alive. Mary takes a different approach. She falls at the feet of her Lord and weeps.
Waiting can cause us to ride on emotional roller coasters. In some instances, we shake our fists screaming, “WHERE ARE YOU LORD?” Other times, we fall to our knees, exhausted from trying to predict the unknown.
It’s important to know that it’s okay to feel what you feel. It’s not like God doesn’t know you are frustrated or confused or even tired. Trust me. He knows.
There’s worth in waiting. It is during this time of uncertainty that God has the greatest potential to do work in your life. Waiting is ultimately for our sanctification. He will draw near to us and as a result, we will be more compassionate, stronger and hopefully refined.
With that knowledge, go ahead and feel confident to ask God the big questions:
• How long, Lord?
• Why me?
• Why not me?
• Where are You?
• How is this remotely fair?
• Do You even hear me?
• Do You see me?
• Do You not care?
Questions are okay. The key to remember is that you can’t stay in this hazy place. We can boldly come before the throne, but we must surrender completely.
So how do we let go? How do we trust? How do we become someone who waits well?
May I offer a suggestion? When I’m struggling with what I don’t know or understand, I focus on what I DO know.
Is God good? Yes. Is God sovereign? Always. Does He have a plan for me? Absolutely.
In verse 25, Jesus looks at His sweet friend Martha and reminds her of one very important truth that she may have forgotten in her grief:
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”
Then He looks her in the eyes and asks her a simple question:
“Do you believe me?”
Martha’s faith comes to life at this moment. She does believe. She and Mary follow Jesus and the huge crowd over to the tomb and watch in amazement as the Lord calls for someone to remove the stone so Lazarus may raise from the dead.
I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes. Yes, indeed that tomb was full of some foul smelling funk. Mary and Martha point out that Lazarus has been dead for four days. That’s an odor you can’t un-smell.
Oh, dear reader. There’s worth in the waiting.
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here that they may believe that You sent me. Lazarus, come out!”
Lives changed that day. Lazarus certainly had something to write about in his journal. So did Mary and Martha. But God had bigger things in mind.
“Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in Him.” — John 11:45
Four days of waiting changed more than a handful of lives that day. Four days of waiting culminated in countless non-believers witnessing a bigger than life miracle. Four days of waiting resulted in crowds putting their faith in Jesus.
There’s worth in the waiting.
I’ve been waiting to be married for what feels like an eternity. Some days I wonder if God has forgotten me. Will I be alone forever? Why do other girls get to find their Mr. Right and I’m still here dateless on a Saturday night? When will it be my turn?
The bottom line is that God is sovereign, and His timing is perfect. Period. I rarely agree with it and often have to remind myself to be patient while I’m waiting. But it is a part of life. I have remembered that there is a bigger picture and grander story that is being told.
And if waiting is what it takes to put me on my knees EVERY SINGLE DAY in communion with the Lord because I don’t know what else to do…
Then it’s totally worth it.