Waiting Stinks

Read John 11:1-4
(We'll go farther in the story next time)

Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick. Very sick. His sisters sent for Jesus, the compassionate miracle-worker.
When Jesus didn’t come right away, Martha and Mary suffered. They expected Jesus, the Healer who loved them, to come and save Lazarus. When Lazarus died instead, they were left with their own thoughts and questions. I can imagine that they wavered in their faith, sometimes thinking, “Jesus has so many people to help, of course He couldn’t just come when we asked,” and sometimes “But He’s our friend. Aren’t we important enough to Him that He would come and help?” They maybe even wondered why Jesus didn’t say the word from afar and save Lazarus’ life. He’d done it for others. Why not for them?
Upon receiving the message about the illness, however, Jesus responds this way.  “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God.” (John 11:4)
It is not clear whether He says this to the messenger, in which case the words would be carried back to the sisters, or to His disciples so that they would understand His apparent inaction. Either way, we get our first glimpse at the reason for the waiting: so that God may be glorified.
Focusing on glorifying God in the process certainly gives meaning to the waiting, but it’s still tough. John 11:39 records Martha’s response to Jesus after He instructed the mourners to remove the stone from the tomb. “Lord, he has been dead four days. The smell will be terrible.” (NLT) The King James puts it, “Lord, by this time, he stinketh,” which makes it sound nobler, somehow.
Either way, Martha’s statement is a reminder that waiting stinks. It can be difficult, painful, lonely, and discouraging. That’s why we need to hear Jesus’ response to her in verse 40. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?” Mary and Martha were learning that it was important to focus on Jesus and keep going back to Him when they needed to be encouraged, to be strengthened, or to be reminded of God’s faithfulness. We need to learn the same thing in our waiting times.

Waiting can be a time of growth that glorifies God.

·         If you are in a waiting time right now, write down a step or two that you are willing to take to help you focus on Jesus instead of the waiting.
·         Take time to imagine the good things that may be happening in your life or others’ lives while you are waiting.


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