“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)
Oh, what a word of encouragement we have before us today – to know that God’s seeming delays are not God’s denials! I say “seeming” simply because God never actually delays; that is only our perspective on the matter. Everything happens according to the perfect plan and purpose of God, and it all happens precisely according to His timetable.
I’m sure most of you who visit this blog know that we are currently working through the Gospel of Luke at Cross Community Church. We recently studied the story of Jairus and Jesus, which is recounted in Luke 8:41-56. We saw that it certainly must have seemed to Jairus that Jesus had been delayed, and the pain that seeming delay caused Jairus must have been immense. But in the end, Jesus met Jairus in his deepest place of need . . . just as He does for you and me.
Jairus came to Jesus and fell at His feet, pleading with Jesus to come to his home because his 12-year old daughter was dying. Luke recorded that Jesus immediately set out for Jairus’s home, but Jesus stopped (and was apparently delayed) in order to miraculously heal an unnamed woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. We don’t know how long this encounter lasted, but it took long enough that someone came from the home of Jairus to utter these soul-crushing words: “Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher any more.”
Put yourself in the place of Jairus and think about how he must have been feeling about the encounter with the woman while on the way to his home. In Jairus’s mind, this seeming delay had unquestionably caused the death of his daughter. But God’s seeming delays are not His denials. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus said to Jairus; “just believe, and she will be healed.” They continued on to Jairus’s home, and when they arrived, Jesus went into the room where the girl lay dead and raised her from death to life.
In the eyes of the watching world, the encounter with the woman was a delay . . . but to Jesus, everything happened according to His sovereign plan and purpose for the woman, for Jairus, and for his daughter. And the same can be said for each one of us.
I’ve said here before that when we cry out to God in prayer, we always get an immediate answer: “Yes,” No,” or “Wait.” “Yes” and “No” are easy enough to deal with; the challenge is in the waiting. This is where God seems to delay. But in that seeming delay, God is at work in our lives, conforming us more and more into the image and likeness of His beloved Son.
Abraham waited 25 years after God promised that Abraham would be the father of many nations before Isaac was actually born. Joseph waited 13 years after God’s promise of princely prominence before he was made prime minister of Egypt and blessed the nation of Israel. Moses waited 40 years on the back side of the desert while God prepared to send him back into Egypt to free the children of Israel from bondage. In each one of these seeming delays, God was preparing, teaching, and growing His people into the person He needed them to be in order to use them as He did . . . and He is doing the same with you and me.
Where in your life has God been “delaying” . . . from your perspective? Remember, God’s delays are not God’s denials. God is preparing, teaching, and growing you into the person He needs you to be in order to use you to expand the cause of His kingdom for His glory, for your good, and for the good of others. As we saw in today’s verse from the prophet Jeremiah, God’s plans are to give you a holy hope and a faithful future. You have His word on it!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!