S99P3 – Timely salvation: when hope has gone

John 11:11-15

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.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Word was sent to Jesus that the man was sick and in need of healing, but this was not just any man.  Lazarus was a friend of the Lord’s who had provided support for him and his disciples at times.  Kind, generous and a man of faith, his sisters certainly expected that their friend and Lord would come and save him.  Jesus could have shown up and performed a miraculous healing before the man died.  Jesus even could have healed him from afar.  Instead, He waited until Lazarus entered that slumber of death before even making his way to his friend.  To those who watched him die, the time for healing had passed.  Sickness had given way to death, and that appeared to be final.

We talk about God’s perfect timing and how different it can be from our preferred timing.  We say that He often shows up in the 11th hour, but He is never late or absent.  Yet, it sometimes looks like God surely has missed the opportunity to step in and save us from that which binds or plagues us.  We see our affliction, we ask God for deliverance, and we picture what that deliverance will look like.  In the case of Lazarus, the people expected him to be saved through healing.  That made sense for a man who was sick.  God, on the other hand, wanted to save Lazarus in a different way.  The people asked for healing, but He delivered by a resurrection.  It looked like the hour had come and gone, but the Lord knew what He was doing.

We are subject to time, but time is subject to God.  We pray and expect based on our knowledge and perception.  We impose upon God our notions of being on time or late, but those mean nothing to him.  All is within his reach and subject to his will even if it has passed us by.  It is never too late for God to intervene.  His intervention might look much different than what we have asked or what we logically would expect, but that should be of no consequence to us.  He is faithful to answer the prayers of the righteous and to deliver his children from their bonds and afflictions.  Father, give us the faith to believe in your saving power even if it looks like the opportunity has passed.