God’s ways are higher , He has a divine purpose for His timing and He will turn all that the enemy means for evil, for our good
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Waiting on God is no foreign notion to most of us. God hears our cries but sometimes He delays for a reason, because His ways are not our ways. In Psalm 69:17 David implored God to answer quickly “Answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.” I wonder how many of us feel the need for a quick answer and resolution from God in the current situation.
In John 11 we read the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. They know that Jesus can heal him. But what does Jesus do. He waits. He delays his departure.
Why the delay?
Yes, this miracle did cause many who did not believe to put their faith in Jesus. But let’s just take a look at what it did to Mary and Martha’s faith.
Martha – Jesus tells Martha when he arrives later there that Lazarus will rise and goes on to say in verse 25 and 26 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
To this Martha replies “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the son of God, who was to come into this world.
This declaration shows her deep faith in Jesus, not just as a healer or teacher but as her Lord who saves.
Mary – we read about her telling Jesus in John 11 that if He had been there Lazarus would not have died. We see her faith in Jesus ability to heal and we know from before that she sat at Jesus feet as she heard him teach. She longed to be in His presence and to hear Him teach.
We go on to read in John 12 of how she anoints Jesus with expensive nard and wipes his feet with her hair.
It was an act in part preparing Jesus for his burial and gives a glimpse into her act of demonstrating the value of Jesus in her life in a very tangible way. Her act of preparing Jesus for his burial presupposes that she understood somehow who Jesus was, she understood that He had come to die on the cross for the sins of all mankind including herself. The tangible value of what Jesus means to her was reflected in her actions.
We go on to read that Judas Iscariot and others criticise her use of the expensive perfume, but Jesus honours her action and extravagant devotion.
Mary worshipped Jesus in a way she knew how to, that nudging that she got, she was obedient to without focusing on whether others would have approved or not. Her worship, her act of faith was not confined or restricted by society norms when she used her hair to wipe Jesus feet and neither were they driven by what others would think.
Jesus wants to raise the bar of our belief. He wants us to go deeper in our faith and often times he uses times of adversity and delay to help us grow in HIM. We see a deepening of Mary and Martha’s faith with the timing of the miracle of raising Lazarus, it is God’s perfectly and divinely purposed execution of events. These times can be opportunities for growth to take place within us.
For the growth and strengthening of our faith at these times, we have to remember to be:
- Open and transparent with God with our fear, anxieties and doubts – Cast all your cares on Him, pour your heart out to Him because He does care. He will help stave the fear, calm your anxiety and rid the unbelief.
- Respond to God with faith – whatever you are going through at the moment and whatever God is asking of you at the moment, respond with and react with the faith within you. Your faith might be little or weak but in God’s hands that small amount of faith like the mustard seed can grow and become strong.
- Obedience to God – Faith is evidenced by our works. Genuine faith always produces works. Walking in obedience does grow us in our faith, the same way that living in disobedience will weaken our faith. Obedience builds our trust in HIM and it acknowledges that HE is the sovereign God of our life.
- Perseverance through challenging times – Romans 5:3-5 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Hope is our faith in His word and promises.
James 1:2-5 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
These verses above invite us to see trials and delays in a different way and to engage with them in a different way. It is an opportunity to build something in us that is so much more valuable.
As we celebrate Easter this year in a very different way than we would have any other year, God is stripping us of any customs, traditions and distractions that might take precedence over genuine, raw heartfelt worship of HIM and giving us all an opportunity to singularly contemplate His sacrifice, His victory and His provision for us through His death and resurrection.
Challenging times can be an opportunity if we are obedient and plaint in the hands of our sculptor. These times can be an invitation to turn to Him, to grow deeper in our relationship with Him, to prune out the unnecessary that might have been suffocating our worship and dedication to Him.
Cast off the temptation of despair because in HIM we always have hope. Look with hope this Easter towards Jesus in whom we find life and know that he is King, He is victorious and in HIM we can overcome. May we be pliant in the hands of our Heavenly Father during this time and allow Him to Raise the bar of our belief, strengthen our Faith and Deepen our trust in Him.