Ever take a road trip with kids? When my youngest was 2 she hated, and I mean HATED to be restrained in a car seat. She was good for about 30 minutes and then done. On a particular trip with just me and my girls I was traveling about 4 hours and she was beside herself. She cried, begged, pleaded and demanded to be set free. I kept saying, “No baby, we can’t unbuckle now. You have to wait”. So she decided if she was strapped in misery, then all of us should be miserable as well. And all the while I’m saying, “I know you want to get out, but you can’t. You have to wait”.
It would be a quick fix to just unbuckle the belt so that we could have peace. After about 2 hours of it, I was really tempted. But just because it’s a simple fix doesn’t mean it’s at all the best thing or a wise move on my part. Because I know more than her in this matter and because I’m responsible for her safety, it is my job to make the best choice for her.
I found this experience to be stressful but downright humorous, because she just looked and acted ridiculous in the midst of this. She was completely unreasonable and we all know that reasoning with a 2-year-old is within itself unreasonable! It’s a spectacle to watch, leaving me shaking my head. But the truth of the matter is that we are more like that 2-year-old than we want to admit. When God requires us to wait on Him we ask, we plead, we scream, we demand, we cry…………..we become those unhappy people who can’t be happy until everyone else around us is unhappy too. We can be completely unreasonable, making a spectacle of ourselves in the process. We no doubt leave God shaking His head at us because we have forgotten that He knows more than us in the matter and He is responsible for us and it is His job to make the best choice for us….. and like it or not, He does not often feel compelled to explain Himself to us.
It’s a hard place to be. Feeling as though we are strapped into a situation with little or no choice over our own situation. And there’s no end to the things we are waiting for. Some things we wait for in excitement – a wedding day, the birth of a baby, a reunion. But some things are nothing but hard and we find ourselves absolutely worn out with the waiting. A wayward child. For someone to get well from a terrible accident or sickness. For someone to come home safe from a war. For Mr. Right – or a re-right. For someone to die and finally be free from their prison of pain. For a child that is never born. For a provision of a need. And the list goes on. The waiting becomes a huge burdensome weight that we carry on our shoulders, in our life and it begins to overwhelm us and color our world.
John 11 tells us the story of Mary and Martha. They were waiting for Jesus to come and heal their brother Lazarus. But He didn’t show when they expected. Lazarus dies.
You may be very familiar with this story, but what would this look like in our modern-day world. You have a sick sibling and a close relationship with the Healer. He’s just right down the road and so you call him on your cell, send an email or text and your expectation is that he would come right away and he doesn’t. And your brother or sister, a family member, someone you love dies.
Have you ever prayed and fully expected that God would answer but He didn’t? If we’re honest with ourselves we know that we have. What do we do with that? I mean, you think God will show up. You know He will. But then it seems He has forgotten. He just makes you wait, and wait. I’ve heard it said that God is never late. But it seems He misses a lot of opportunities to be early! We feel the burden of the delay, of the waiting.
We see that in our story. When Jesus finally shows up, after purposely making the sisters wait, Martha says, “Lord, if you had only been here.” We should probably give Martha the benefit of the doubt and assume she was recognizing the truth, that Jesus could have done something. This was a show of her faith in Him, but I’m not so sure we approach God that way when we are hurting. We say, “Lord, why didn’t you do something?” Because let’s face it, knowing that God could do something and realizing He chose not to can be a very sobering and painful thing.
But this story doesn’t end there. Yes, Jesus didn’t come when they called. He made them wait. Why? So that the greater miracle could take place. So that glory would be given to God. The whole reason that we are on this earth is to give glory to God. That’s it. So God will do in us what gives Him the most glory, but we are so concerned with having things our way……….controlling our world…….controlling the PEOPLE around us, that we forget something crucial. It is NOT about us!
I would never minimize your pain or even suggest it’s easy to wait. Pain is real and waiting is hard. I think the disciples felt this severely upon the death of Jesus on the cross. They had placed all their hopes and dreams on this man. They believed Him to be the promised Messiah who would rescue them from oppression. They left everything to follow Him and what they got in return was a crucified friend and dead dreams. And so they sat behind locked doors afraid and confused and waiting for what? They didn’t even know what they were waiting for.
BUT come Easter Sunday morning they got something totally unexpected and what we all received was victory. Victory over death. Victory over hell. Victory over Satan and any power that comes against us and we also got an incredible lesson of the Christian life…………………what seemed to be the greatest tragedy was the greatest miracle of all. The crisis, the pain was the path to salvation. And the tragedies in our own personal lives, may be the very thing that we need most.
Maybe while we’re waiting for God to show up in our crisis, we need to recognize that He’s already there and God can use anything for His glory and our good. He can redeem anything. No matter how bad or ugly or terrible it may be. He can redeem anything.
Our waiting is not always alone. It is usually accompanied by fear. The fear of something is often more powerful than the thing we are afraid of. Fear is one of Satan’s most powerful tactics. But God is the only all-powerful one and He has given us authority over Satan. Satan is under our feet. Victory is ours. As hard as trusting God can be, living with constant fear is harder. We can never fret our way to victory and the victorious life is what God had laid out for us in Christ.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.