Living in an on-demand society has its drawbacks. Our patience and tolerance of time has been on a diet for years to the point that it is dangerously thin! We want things our way and immediately. Servers are not fast enough so we have on-demand drinks. Speed limits are not fast enough so we drive faster. Communication is not fast enough so we have cell phones for immediate access. Now we have social media to have instant results. Television shows have too many commercials so we DVR and skip the commercials or buy the Hopper and it auto skips them. Black Friday is not early enough so we camp out for opening at midnight. Now we even see stores opening earlier. Who can imagine going back to dial-up internet speeds? We want our mail now. We have changed the name to “snail-mail” versus e-mail. What happens when on-demand breaks down?
God’s Four Letter Word
When we approach God and make a request we tend to expect on-demand miracles. When God says “wait”, we treat it like it is a four-letter word. You know those, right? Those words we were told were off-limits. Those “bad” words, “vulgar” words, inappropriate words. Those words the “other-side-of-the-tracks” kids used. When God says wait we think it is so bad, so vulgar, so disrespectful, that we cannot comprehend it. John 11 shares intimate moments between friends. Jesus had 3 good friends, apart from the 12 disciples. He was in a neighboring town when he received the message that Lazarus was very ill. The sisters knew Jesus. They had a strong friendship with Him. They wanted some immediate response and healing. Jesus had healed “everyone” else, so what is it to come over for a friend? They wanted no-waiting, on-demand, front-of-the-line status.
So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,
he stayed where he was for the next two days.
Wait…what? Exactly! Jesus took note of the problem and chose to stay for 2 days.
Hating to Wait
I admit I hate to wait. I am a product of society, to a degree, and hate to wait around for something that I think should move faster. Whether it is pedestrians, cars at stop lights, or doctors running tests. I clump them all together and often feel things should move faster. I carry a phone for immediate updates on mail, test scores, sports scores, bank accounts, and more. When God tells me to wait, I have to really check my attitude. We are being conditioned to run ahead and away from God who often demands our slowing down. We run too fast. We skip too much. Our babies are having babies before we turn around twice. I know the need to slow down but how?
Learning to Lean
Mary and Martha had to learn also to wait. For two days they waited. For them, tragedy struck and their lives were ruined. When you read through the passage, Jesus seems flippant. Now, I know He is not. But it feels that way. Your best friend is in a bad situation and you wait? My son is in agony God and you wait? My daughter is not breathing God and you wait? My Mom is dying God and you wait? My husband is beating me up God and you wait? I lost my job last month God and you wait? I have been stabbed in the back God and you wait? Learning to lean on God is a difficult lesson and can only occur in the most desperate of times. Who can learn this when everything is right? Who learns this when it all goes your way? The problem is that when things do not go our way we often get mad and walk away from God. Yet, when God says wait there is a reason.
The next time God says wait what should we do? Before you dismiss the following as spiritual jargon, consider each item deeply.
Open the lines of communication. Before you wall yourself off and give God the silent treatment, consider the fact that God is trying to get your attention. Jesus had specific revelations He needed to make that bring us great joy now but were difficult at the time. God wants to communicate and our busy lifestyle usually gets in the way. Take this time to communicate.
Don’t look for God’s logic. People always say, “God has a reason.” The problem with that statement is that is so cold and unfeeling. Don’t look for God’s purpose in the middle of the problem. You will go crazy trying to figure out the workings of God. Instead, take a look around and savor these moments. Write down your thoughts and feelings before you forget them when it is all over. Look for God’s grace and mercy in the small things and journal it. Trust me. You will forget them later if you don’t. When the bitterness bug tries to bite you can always look back and see God’s hand through the process.
Accept the challenge. God is always at work to deepen your faith and reach the world with the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. This moment may have to do with you and your faith. This moment may have to do with those around you who need to see faith in action. Either way, express to God your decision to accept the challenge.