What Happens When God’s Late?
By Jennifer Slattery –
Have you ever felt like God forgot about you? Maybe you’re caught in an impossible situation with nowhere to go, searching for the lifeline that never seems to come. Perhaps your rope got stuck in the parcel post or passed through one too many hands along the way. But it doesn’t matter. You’re in a bind and you need God. Now. But then, when you least expect it, God does show up, and contrary to your panicked thoughts, the world doesn’t end. In fact, once the storm passes and you take a step back, you realize God was there all the time. And He really did know what He was doing.
I’m always in a hurry—on constant overdrive. Not because I’m terribly ambitious, but because I can’t let go of the reigns. I expect things to get done a certain way and in a certain period of time. When they don’t, I’m tempted to panic. And I could rationalize it a million ways, but ultimately it comes down to lack of trust. It’s like I forget that God is bigger than His creation, which includes my tiny little role in it.
Which is why I love the Bible passage about Martha and Lazarus. Martha and I would have been great friends, or at least a highly efficient team. Although I suspect our anxious thoughts and frantic behaviors would have given us both a migraine.
In John chapter eleven, we are told that Martha’s brother is sick. And what did you do in first century Palestine when someone you loved fell ill? You sought out the Healer, of course. I imagine if He was a close family friend, as Jesus was to Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, you’d expect a rather quick response. But what did Jesus do when he learns of Lazarus’ illness? He tarried, on purpose. Didn’t He love Lazarus? Verses five and six say He did. “So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, He stayed where He was for the next two days.”
When He finally arrives at Lazarus’ home in Bethany, it’s too late. Lazarus is dead. Martha is distraught, and even accusatory.
John 11:21, “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would not have died.’”
Translation: God, You’re too late.
Lazarus had been dead for three days. Martha’s faith and hope had come and gone. She’d gone from fervent prayers to mourning.
Jesus’ response? I’m bigger than that, Martha.
John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Many of us know the rest of the story. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and God’s power was revealed. I’m sure when it was done Martha felt silly for her lack of faith. Just like I frequently do after a premature pity-party But the account of Lazarus has a way of bringing me back to reality. The God that made me, saved me, is bigger than anything I could face. And His timing is always perfect.
So what happens when God is late? Now that is a question without a logical answer, my friend. The more rational question would be—when is God late? And my response would be never, even if it appears things have regressed to the point of decay.