October 31, 2018 by Linda Maynard
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9 ESV
Two days. When Mary and Martha’s message of their brother’s dire illness reached Jesus, he loved them so much that he stayed put another two days. The wait must have been excruciating. With every hour that passed, Lazarus’s condition worsened, until at last, it claimed his very life. The end the sisters feared the most came true.
Why had Jesus been so slow?
If I were Mary or Martha, I know what my answer would have been: Jesus doesn’t really care. Jesus must not think much of me. Jesus can’t be trusted. But those weren’t Jesus’s reasons at all. Upon receiving word of his friend’s illness, Jesus said it was “for the glory of God, so that the Son of God might be glorified through it” (John 11:4).
And the glory of Jesus wouldn’t just save one life. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, John 11:45 tells us, “many Jews…had come with Mary and had seen what he did.” And they believed in Him. Jesus had not delayed out of cruelty or lack of understanding. He had waited with patience, knowing that raising Lazarus from the dead would create the biggest impact for the kingdom of God.
But not all. Many still saw Jesus as a threat, and they planned and schemed ways to do away with Him. They had seen the same person, witnessed the same miracle, and came to an unbelievable conclusion. Still, Jesus did not lose patience. He kept walking, teaching, serving, performing miracles, even giving His own life, “that all should reach repentance.”
I am not sure how you respond, but I know that when I have told someone something over and over again, and they fail to understand, I grow weary. Not kept in check, my weariness leads to impatience. My impatience leads to annoyance. And my annoyance leads to dismissal. But that is not how God responds to us.
In 1996, despite being told of the love and saving grace of God my entire life, I found myself in a dead-end place. A broken marriage relationship, infertility and other factors overwhelmed me, and I fell into a deep pit of sin and despair. I began to wonder if there really was any hope for me. And then God sent His messenger: a woman about my age, who once had walked where I was treading. And as I sat in that pit—that seemingly inescapable pit—she introduced me to Jesus. In the time it took me to fall to my knees, He moved me from the depths of despair to His power-packed peak of saving faith.
How? By the love of a new friend who didn’t blast me with Biblical truth, but gifted me with the Gospel. Her example of Godly love changed me and my life forever. And, as the apostle Peter reminds us in his second epistle, God continues to tarry so that we might continue to share that gift with others.
He waits so that more and more may believe. He waits so that you and I might learn His truth, believe His truth, and share His truth—not with the blast of a bullhorn to the unbeliever, but as the gift of a friend who’s been there and done that.
The Bible says we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). May we treasure God’s mercy and pass it on in great love and patience and watch Him raise others from death to life.