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Purposeful Delay

Purposeful Delay
Words of Faith 12-16-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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John 11
[11] After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up."
[12] His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." [13] Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
[14] So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, [15] and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."
[16] Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

The disciples had expressed their fears concerning a return to the area around Jerusalem. But Jesus had a mission there. Lazarus was now dead. If Jesus did not go and “wake him up” he would remain dead!
Of course the disciples did not catch Jesus’ euphemism. They thought Lazarus was just asleep but Jesus clarified that he was indeed dead. Very dead. And something great and wonderful was about to happen.
Jesus said a strange thing. In essence Jesus said, “I’m glad Lazarus died!” Why? Because Jesus knew a great lesson in faith was in store. We now can see that Jesus and the Father had planned all along something magnificent.
Was Jesus glad that Mary and Martha were experiencing pain? Was Jesus glad that Lazarus had experienced suffering and death? Certainly this was not the point of His “gladness”.
Jesus was glad because God had planned a magnificent demonstration of power that would certify the Father's accreditation of him as the Son and confirm the faith of the sisters and the disciples. This miracle would foretell the great power of resurrection that was to come after His own death. Jesus was certain of the outcome. He knew that positive belief and joy would be the result of this whole ordeal.
Of course Thomas was not so sure. He never was. He was pessimistic, but certainly not cowardly. If Jesus was ready to go back to Jerusalem, then he was ready to go as well even it meant death.
We often wonder at the purpose of divine delays. In the case of the man born blind, Jesus said that this happened so that the work of God may be displayed in his life (John 9:3). That is a long delay! But what a marvelous outcome!
In the case of Lazarus, the delay was brief but intensely painful. There is little in life that is as painful as the suffering and loss of a loved one. Yet, Jesus allowed even this pain for the purpose of teaching something to Mary and Martha, the Disciples and certainly Lazarus. “For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.”
When we face divine delays there are some things we cannot be sure of and some we can. We cannot be sure of the purpose. The delay of God may be for our refinement, for building our character, for witness to others, to display God’s power in our time of weakness, to display God’s power in a dramatic healing, to teach us something, or some other purpose. We may not know until later.
We can be sure of this. God has not abandoned us or forgotten us. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). We know even those things that evil people intend for harm, God intends for good to accomplish salvation (Genesis 50:19-20). “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Lord, give me patience in the times of divine delay. I know that Your timing is perfect just as it was with Lazarus. I trust that Your plan is perfect and that You are at work in all that is happening around me. Show me how to act. Teach me how to respond. Instruct me in faith. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.