“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has asked God to step in and provide wisdom or rescue from a situation, only to have it not just worsen but fall apart completely. In the aftermath, questions linger. Why was God silent? Why didn’t he offer insight or direction? Why did he delay and let everything crumble when he was perfectly capable of saving it?
Maybe those are the wrong questions. Instead, what if we asked: what if God’s apparent “No” in that moment was because of a future “Yes”? What if God is sometimes intentionally silent—as he was during his deliberate delay in saving Lazarus—so that he can allow whatever it is to die in order to be beautifully resurrected? What if what we deem most important, what we’re desperately trying to resuscitate, is far removed from God’s best, so he allows it to pass away?
In the waiting, we may grow disillusioned and confuse his silence with disinterest. After the loss, we might sulk because we didn’t get our own way, or we may even blame God for the calamity.
But God is a God of love, and he can’t act against his nature. He’s quite content to hold back the good from us in order to proffer his best. He’s got the big picture in mind.
We only see a pixel. In the meantime, though it grieves him (John 11:35), he can handle our disappointment, our tears of loss and frustration, while he works the miraculous. What appears to be indifference is actually an incredibly loving act. What appears to be distant unconcern is actually the tip of a blessing for his greater purposes.
God’s miraculous work, both within and without, occurs in the waiting. During the delay, we wrestle, persevere through the trial, and grow in faith and Christ-like character. Bystanders are witness to his work—and recipients of it—as we share our stories and offer comfort to fellow sojourners. All the while, God forms the wreckage into a spectacle of his love and greatness.
The next time you find yourself in the middle of an unanswered prayer, or facing a loss, trust that God is working it for good and his glory. It didn’t slip past his peripheral view, nor become lost in processing. Trust that, despite appearances, though it may not unfold the way you asked, his delay always means a greater good. He loves you too much to give you everything you ask for, because not everything you think you want is his best for you. In the end, he hears everything we say to him. And though perhaps the outcome is not what you expected, it is always the result of answered prayers.
I trust that God has my life in his care and is intricately involved in every aspect.