Think about John 11 for a moment. It’s the chapter that contains Lazarus’ death, burial and resurrection.
Well the chapter begins with Lazarus’ sisters sending Jesus an urgent message. To paraphrase it they said, “Please come because the one you love is really, really sick and you’re the only hope we have.” If you’re familiar with the story you know what happens. You know that Mary and Martha’s hope is delayed, and this delay in hope creates a sorrow that struggled to understand how things could have worked out the way they did in light of how they had hoped it would work out.
But this delay was just that – a delay. And the delay eventually gave way to an amazement that changed the way they viewed hope. Hope was no longer an immediate expectation that could be dashed, but rather it was being trained to become an essential part of their enduring faith; their experience was creating an element within them that strengthened their resolve in the face of temporary disappointments while pointing to an undeniable future.
There may be times when our hope seems to be denied. And there may be times when it seems like the resulting disappointments are too much to bear. But remember that there’s a difference between something being denied and something being delayed.
We don’t have to understand all the questions – we just need to keep our faith in the answer that we’ve been given by Jesus.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)