John 11:1-4: “Now a
certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her
hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,
‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This
illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son
of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and
her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two
days longer in the place where he was.”
Many years ago, Garth Brooks had a famous song entitled
“Unanswered Prayers.” It is a beautiful song and has a powerful message to it.
Many in the Christian community questioned the song saying there are no
unanswered prayers with the Lord. There is certainly truth to that; however, I
think what Garth Brooks was trying to convey is that sometimes God answers in
ways that we don’t understand or like at the time. The refrain of the song is “some
of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” God, in his infinite wisdom
and perfect love, is answering prayers according to his plan and purpose. He
knows what is truly best; whereas, we often know only what feels best to us in
see this dilemma in John 11. Jesus has been asked to come to Bethany to
minister to Lazarus. Jesus knows how serious the situation is with Lazarus; he
knows Lazarus will die; and he knows that he will use the opportunity to show
forth the resurrecting power of his Father. In his infinite wisdom and perfect
love, Jesus chooses to wait two days before heading to Bethany. This is hard to
understand. Clearly, it would have been very hard for Martha and Mary to
understand. They loved and trusted Jesus; they knew he loved and cherished them
as friends and as his followers.
does come, and he comes at just the right time to do something they could never
have expected. He will work his miraculous power so that not only Mary, Martha
and Lazarus can see but many in the town of Bethany. God’s power will be more
powerfully displayed in Lazarus being raised from the dead than if Jesus came
to town and healed Lazarus of the illness.
How do we respond to God’s delays or to when he denies
our requests? Are we able to surrender and trust him, knowing that he does have
the infinite wisdom and understanding that we lack and that matched with that
wisdom and understanding is his perfect love?
God’s ways are not always easy, but they are always good
because he is good. All prayers are answered prayers in God’s economy. As Garth
learned, sometimes his no’s end up being his greatest gifts.
help us to trust you with the deepest cries of our hearts knowing that your timing
and your ways are perfect, even when we cannot understand.