“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” – Habakkuk 2:3
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” – James 1:2-3
I got into a fight with my coffeemaker the other day. After going through all the motions to make my morning pot of coffee, I pressed the start button, and shuffled away. Twenty minutes later, nothing had happened. The start button just blinked at me. I pressed the button a little harder (and repeatedly), just to show it who was boss, and it continued to smirk at me with the same blank blinking.
Bleary-eyed and desperate for caffeine, I cursed my coffeemaker. Why wasn’t it cooperating? Upon closer inspection, I found that the water compartment wasn’t snapped all the way into place, and the machine’s built-in sensors had actually saved me from myself. If the coffeemaker had cooperated with my commands, I would have had a small flood on my kitchen counter. I had to admit that there was blessing in the delay.
In John 11, Jesus brings blessing through the means of delay. You probably know the story well. Lazarus, friend to Jesus and brother to Mary and Martha, falls deathly ill (Verse 1). As believers in the power and deity of Jesus, the sisters send Him word, assuming He will waste no time in coming to Lazarus (Verse 3). After all, He loves them, right? Of course, He’ll come immediately. And for once, the sisters agree, as they hold Jesus to the expectation of their timetable and their limited understanding.
But Jesus doesn’t come (Verses 4-6), and Lazarus dies (Verse 14), and it doesn’t make sense. They can’t yet see the blessing in the delay, and they don’t understand that Jesus is painting a bigger picture. In the end, they aren’t just handed a healing, they receive a resurrection.
I find it interesting that Jesus’ seemingly untimely arrival is questioned no less than three times. Martha was the first to reveal her disappointment, “if thou hadst been here…” (Verse 21). Mary’s response is identical (Verse 32), and finally, the locals chime in, after watching Jesus weep (Verse 35-37). Three denials – that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Peter never had a corner on denial of the Lordship of Christ (Luke 22:54-62). And like Martha and Mary, we’ve all questioned His Lordship at one time or another – His sovereign right to do what He pleases, when He pleases, how He pleases, coupled with unshakable faith in His goodness, His perfect love, and the perfection of His timing, purpose, and plans (Genesis 18:14, Psalm 18:30, 46:10, Ecclesiastes 3:11, 8:6, Acts 1:7).
How many times have I thrown a fit, given up hope, and even given up praying – wondering why God wasn’t cooperating, questioning why He wasn’t doing what He was supposed to do – while God was saving me from myself, directing me to HIS purpose, and painting a bigger picture?
Sometimes, God’s will is in the delay (Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 40:31, Lamentations 3:25-26, Micah 7:7, Hebrews 12:1-2, II Peter 3:8-9). Sometimes, we beg for a healing, when God wants to give us a resurrection. We plead with God to show us His will, never considering the fact that He’s just revealed a piece of it – by not giving you your way, by not doing everything according to your timetable.
God is working, and He will answer your prayer according to His perfect plan. But maybe the solution that you’ve pictured in your mind is not the right one, or the best one, or maybe it’s just not ready yet. So often, we go to prayer – not looking for answers, but with answers already in hand – and we expect God to bring our will to pass, instead of His (Matthew 26:42, Luke 11:2). But His will is the bigger, more beautiful picture that will achieve so much more for His glory (Romans 8:18, II Corinthians 4:17-18).
The delay has so much potential – potential to grow your faith, to produce a greater harvest, to provide more opportunities and speak to more souls than you could ever have imagined.
Just say “OK” to the delay. Surrender your outcomes, and let God do the work He wants to do, paint the picture He wants to paint, and be Lord over it all. There’s blessing in the delay…wait for it.
Are you expecting God to follow your plan and to work on your timetable? Surrender to His Lordship, and trust that there is blessing, purpose, and perfect timing in the delay.