What Happens When God’s Late?

June 30, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

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.

About Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Reflections in Hindsight and Samie Sisters and reviews for Novel Reviews. She's also written for Granola Bar Devotion, The Breakthrough Intercessor, Afictionado, The Christian Fiction Online Magazine and functions as the Marketing Representative for the literary website, Clash of the Titles. You can find out more about her and her writing at her devotional blog, http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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3 Responses to “What Happens When God’s Late?”
  1. Terry Palmer says:

    To know God and be known by Him. To exalt God in all that we do. Catch phrases for churches or ‘real truth’for the Christian life? Maybe ‘real life’ would sound like ‘to know despair and be drowned in it’, or ‘to exalt in my failure of not trusting God’.
    Yet we live in a society churned by darkness, given to call light darkness and darkness light, to call sweet bitter, and bitter sweet, to call good evil, and evil good – from Isaiah 5. No wonder it’s sssooo easy to take our mind off Christ for we live in turmoil, in a society that is mixed and poured away from His Truth
    How can man – or woman – survive? David turned to Psalms, to keep my mind stayed on thee. Paul fought ‘the good fight’, keeping his body and mind under subjection lest he be tempted.
    Jesus told the Samaritan woman. A day will come when you will worship in Spirit and in Truth. So why don’t we? Why don’t we turn each day to His Truth. Why don’t we sing to the Lord in bold song? Why don’t we listen and wait… and listen and wait – for His still small voice to lead and to guide, then to launch ahead full of His Spirit?
    I agree with Jennifer above here in her desire for Christ and yet to find herself tempted to stray, to take her eyes off Christ. May this day find refuge for you. Take a moment, ye who are hurting and reread Psalms 34. Did you know God was close to you? You need not be the lone ranger as a Christian for God is with you – in Spirit and in Truth. Terry

  2. Terry, what a lovely comment! I love reading the Psalms. I love reading how David, someone whom the Bible says was “a man after God’s own heart,” express his emotions so honesty. I think too often we express our emotions honestly–to everyone else–but don’t always turn to God, the One who loves us deepest and the only One who truly can help us. Psalm 34:18 is one of my favorites. 🙂

  3. Jennifer, I thank you for this post. I’m going through a season of worry and anxiety and have been praying that be able to trust again. The realization that I worry because I don’t trust causes more worry, because I’ve experienced the blessings of God’s timing many times in the past.

    Terry – such beautiful and encouraging teaching. Thank you!

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