As we journey together through Lent, Christians throughout Columbia will be sharing their own beautifully written personal meditations. Each will be accompanied by a corresponding scripture reading, and be linked to that passage in the Holy Bible. If you would like to join in Columbia’s Lenten journey, submit your personal meditation by email. Especially meaningful submissions will be printed. Let us continue our Lenten journey, day by day, to its glorious culmination on Easter Sunday.
Today’s scripture reading is from the Gospel of John 11:1-27.
Years ago I read somewhere that God only has three answers to our prayers. According to the writer, God either responds, “yes, “not yet,” or “I have something better in mind.” This idea came to mind as I read today’s scripture.
Mary and Martha send word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus is ill. One can imagine their expectation when they sent the message. Mary and Martha were close friends with Jesus and knew that Jesus loved Lazarus. Having witnessed the miracles of Jesus, they knew He had the power to heal Lazarus. They had to be confident that Jesus would come immediately upon news of His dear friend’s illness and heal him. They sent the message and waited. And waited.
Upon receiving the news of Lazarus’s illness, Jesus declares, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” However, Jesus doesn’t rush to Bethany to help His friend. He waited. Jesus knew that His beloved friends expected Him to arrive quickly. He knew that Lazarus was suffering and Mary and Martha were grieving. Yet He waited for two more days before leaving.
I often find it difficult to wait. Our society places a premium on instant gratification. Advances in technology allow us to send messages and receive replies instantly. Books, movies and songs can be downloaded at the push of a button. Patience if not required. When I pray, I often expect immediate results. However, God works at His speed and we must wait.
God’s reply to Mary and Martha’s implied request to Jesus to heal their brother was, “not yet.” He had something better in mind. Jesus waited until Lazarus died before departing for Bethany to set the stage for one of His greatest miracles. Waiting allowed Jesus to demonstrate His power over death, all for the greater glory of God.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14) When we pray we must remember that His timing may be slower than we prefer and His answer may be different than we hope. However, His timing and plan are perfect. And, as we see with the story of Lazarus, God often has something much better in mind.
Columbia, South Carolina
If you enjoyed this Lenten meditation, you can find more at Sharon's Columbia Biblical Studies Examiner homepage.