Restful Anticipation

from You ‘version
John 11:1-44

A prolonged waiting season will test our faith in unimaginable ways. Do we believe that God is good? Where is God when one of the deepest desires of our heart appears lifeless? How can we trust a God who allows heartbreaking delays? 

In John 11, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick, they said, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” By the time Jesus arrives (after deliberately prolonging the journey), Lazarus was dead, gone, stinky, and in the tomb for four days. 

When Mary later sees Jesus, she speaks the same words as Martha, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 

If I had a quarter for all my “If onlys.” 

If only God intervened. 

If only God opened that one door. 

If only God moved a little faster. 

If only God answered the prayer sooner. 

If only.

The days drudged on for the sisters waiting for Jesus to save their brother. With every shift in the fading sun, Mary and Martha must wonder, what could be more important than this? Jesus sees Mary’s tears and responds to her if only. What does He have to say for Himself? What explanation does He provide for His unacceptable tardiness? What could Jesus possibly offer at this point? 

In verse 35, John records one of the most profound moments in scripture: 

Jesus wept.

Jesus sees the sisters’ tears, and He feels their pain. He is greatly troubled and deeply moved in His spirit. But Jesus didn’t rush to the solution; He didn’t skip over or dismiss the emotion. Jesus validates the pain and the disappointment, and (spoiler alert) even though He knows He will raise Lazarus from the dead, what does He do? He weeps. 

Why didn’t Jesus get there sooner? Why did Jesus cause the delay? And if Jesus knows He’s going to raise Lazarus from the dead, why allow the pain and sadness beforehand? I don’t know. But we see sides of Jesus in this story that show us His character. We see Him drawing near to the broken-hearted, weeping with them in their pain. We see Jesus praying to the Father. We see Jesus as a miracle worker, bringing death to life, and turning around an impossible situation. I don’t know the purpose of the postponement, but I am thankful that John took the time to record the story, especially those two little words. 

When our heart feels broken, and our hope is deferred, remember, God is near. He isn’t far off, in the clouds, elusive, or playing hide-and-seek. He’s right there. He is so very close. And when we feel like our heart is dead, even death isn’t final in God’s kingdom. As we remember Jesus’ divinity, we can’t forget His humanity. Jesus wept. He’s not here to harm; He’s here to help.


Father, thank you for your presence. Thank you that you are near to the broken-hearted. Thank you that you have a plan in my delay and in my season of waiting. Thank you that you are always with me every step of the way. Thank you that I can take comfort in your nearness and compassion. Help me experience the fullness of joy that comes in your presence and the peace that surpasses understanding. Amen..

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