Dealing with Unresolved Disappointment
By Glynnis Whitwer

“‘Take away the stone.’ He said. ‘But Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’” John 11:39 (NIV)

Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, was sick. Really sick. In fact, they were sure he was close to death. So they called for the one man they knew could heal Lazarus. That was their friend Jesus.

Messengers found Jesus about a day’s journey from the sisters’ home in Bethany. But when Jesus got the message about Lazarus, He didn’t pack up and leave immediately. In fact, Jesus stayed put … for two more days.

It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t care. He did. Jesus didn’t lose track of the time either. No, the Bible tells us that Jesus intentionally delayed going to help saying “… it is for God’s glory, so that God’s son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4 NIV). Jesus had a plan, but Mary and Martha didn’t know that. All they knew was their brother had died and Jesus didn’t come in time.

The sisters were clearly disappointed in Jesus’ lack of response. In fact, they both told Him so. Martha chided Jesus first, then Mary fell at Jesus’ feet and echoed her sister’s words, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.”

Jesus knew their pain. He felt it too. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus wept with them. Together the group of mourners made their way to the tomb, and when they arrived, Jesus made an unusual request – that the stone in front of the opening be removed.

The sisters were shocked. Why would Jesus make this request? Didn’t He realize how bad the body would smell? Martha even told Jesus so, perhaps to “remind” Him that her brother had been dead for four long days.

Mary and Martha were devastated. Not only had their brother died, but they knew Jesus could have changed the outcome of their brother’s illness. In their minds, Jesus abandoned them in their time of greatest need. The sisters were grieving the loss of their brother, but I wonder if they were grieving because Jesus hadn’t done what they asked. In fact, they were so sad and discouraged, when Jesus made a move to help, they wanted to leave the stone in front of the tomb.

Have you ever been disappointed with God’s apparent lack of response? I have. It’s disheartening when you know God could immediately change the outcome of your circumstances, but He seems absent. So there you sit, in the pain, grief and fear while God delays.

Martha even seems to have given up and accepted her grief and disappointment. She was ready to live with the “fact” that Jesus didn’t care enough to heal Lazarus.

However that “fact” couldn’t have been further from the truth. As the sisters gave in and moved the stone, Jesus showed them just how much He loved them. In a loud voice Jesus called, “Lazarus, come out!”

Jaws dropped, hearts pounded, wails turned to screams of joy as a formerly dead man walked out of the tomb … very much alive. Jesus had never ignored their cry for help. He didn’t disregard their pain. He hadn’t abandoned them. He had a plan that included a delay.

Sometimes God’s plans for us might include a delay. As we wait, may we learn from this story to not give up, to not accept grief as our lot in life and to expect God to turn our mourning into joy. Remember, He’s coming right on time.

Dear Lord, please forgive me for all the times I have given up on You, and believed You have abandoned me to suffer. Help me to trust that You have a plan to bring about my healing, and bring joy back to my life, even though it may not look like what I had asked for. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Your Scars are Beautiful to God by Sharon Jaynes

Visit Glynnis’ Blog

Do You Know Jesus?

Application Steps:

Identify an event that has caused you great pain. Have you resigned yourself to live with that pain forever? If so, choose today to believe that God can do something about it.

Has God ever delayed answering one of your prayers? If so, could you see His good plan in the delay?

How does waiting on God develop our character?
What should our attitude be when we are waiting on God to answer our prayers?

Power Verses:
2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (NIV)

Psalm 17:6-7, “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.” (NIV)

Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (NIV)


Exactly what I needed to hear today.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reminder that God is in control. He has a plan that I don't understand. Waiting is so hard and the situation seems impossible. But all things are possible with God. He will be glorified. I need to remain faithful and do what I know is right and He will have His way.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great thing to hear! I have been thinking for the last week or so that things aren't going my way... and this helped me remember that God has a plan and I have to give it all to him. I just have to sit back and let God take over the situation.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you...I am in pain and although it is hard to believe God is working on the situation because it has taken so very long....I am trying to believe that it is true. I will, as much as I am able and with His help, cast my cares upon Him...and choose to believe that He loves me...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

this was such a blessing and so timely. for the past year this story has been such a blessing to me in multiple situations. God really used you to bring this point back to my rememberance. i am struggling with feelings, emotions that it seems even the dearest of friends and family members don't understand. yesterday, i was numb with mental pain and just needed something to help me refocus. all yesterday i sought for that something. late last night, god began speaking and when i woke up this morning to read this devotional it was like God finished his thoughts. i still have questions, though. why are some people's blessings delayed and others' are not. some work so hard for the blessings of God and others dont even recognize that God is the hand behind the blessings. why does God choose his chosen ones to wait on those blessings? but i know that in His time God will reveal this truth as well.god bless you.

"Lazarus, come out!" Powerful words of proclamation. I hear Christ saying the same to me today. Time to leave the tomb behind and to begin my walk of resurrection.


Blogger Angela Baylis said...

Thank you for an amazing post! I have to admit that I sometimes feel like ... "the fact is...". Not true! Your post was a timely one since I've been reflecting on past disappointments lately! Wow, God brought me here tonight!

Much love,
Angie xoxo

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the devotion. I needed to hear this. The devotion helped me understand some things that I didnt understand. Now I know the delay(s) is/are part of God's plan and will bring honor and glory to my heavenly Father - My Awesome God. Forgive me heavenly Father for my moments of doubt!

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