If God Seems Late, Wait

Lou Lotz

READ : John 11:1-16

After having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (v. 6)

It is hard to like people who always show up late. The student late for class. The soprano late for choir practice. The family late for church. Tardiness annoys us.

In his book Talk Is Not Enough, psychotherapist Will Gaylin says that lateness is a form of nonverbal communication. Chronically tardy people are trying to say something. Latecomers are annoying, but our anger is disarmed by their sweet, chirpy greeting, “Sorry I’m late!” Gaylin says that they are not sorry, and more important, they are not late. They arrived exactly when they wanted to. “Lateness is a planned event,” says Gaylin.

Jesus arrives late in Bethany, and his lateness is intentional. “He stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” He arrived late, but he was worth waiting for.

One mark of spiritual maturity is the ability to wait for God. “If [the vision] seems to tarry,” says the prophet Habakkuk, “wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay” (2:3). If God seems late, wait. Don’t toss the vision impatiently away. Hold to it, work for it, believe in it, expect it. Jesus seems to be late, yet he arrives at precisely the right time, to do precisely the right thing.


Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.