Delayed Gratification; July 19, 2018

John 11:5-6 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

This is a very important, instructive incident in the life and ministry of Jesus, and we are very blessed that John recorded it. These two verses should be engraved on the heart of every believer. We tend to accuse God of not loving us when unpleasant things happen, but this passage directly contradicts that. John is very explicit that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and it would be foolish indeed to doubt the quality of that love. Actually, verse 15 indicates that Jesus’ actions were also out of His love for His disciples. As a refrigerator magnet I’ve seen expresses it, “Everything God does is love, even when we don’t perceive it.” In this particular instance, it was precisely because Jesus loved the three siblings that He delayed responding to their very real need. We have a lot of trouble wrapping our minds around that! Jesus knew that a resurrection would be a far greater blessing than a healing, particularly because it would purify and strengthen the faith of the two sisters. This is where trust comes in. We want our answers NOW, but even secular psychologists tell us that acceptance of delayed gratification is one of the prime indicators of emotional maturity. Actually, the flip side of that is true as well. Awareness of negative consequences down the road is far more of a deterrent for a mature person than for an immature one. If everything were instant, hardly any of us would grow in any way other than physically. God knows what we really need, in contrast to what we think or feel we need, and in love He provides it for us. When our faith grows to accept that, we receive peace and joy that most of the world knows nothing about.

Yesterday was a minor practicum in this. Cathy and I were at the hospital eight hours for her cataract surgery that took less than an hour. Most of the wait was before they took her to the operating room, because a previous patient’s surgery took longer than expected, but some of it was unexplained. Particularly because the delay took us through lunchtime, it felt even longer than it was! However, the surgery itself went very well, and we spent much of the waiting time in prayer for various friends. The end result was blessing in various ways, some of which we may never recognize, but we trust God that they are real. We have learned that God loves us too much to spoil us, and we need to rejoice in the assurance of that love.

Father, thank You for yesterday and all it held. Thank You for today, and all You have planned for us in it as well. Help us indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, taking one step at a time, so that all of Your plans for us may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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