Cross Words: Three reasons why God keeps you waiting

By Isaiah Pauley

Hey there! Are you still in the waiting room? If so, I have good news. This week, I’m continuing my “In the waiting room” series on John 11:1-44. I’m studying three reasons why God keeps you waiting. Allow me to share them with you.

First, God is glorified through your waiting.

Remember, this series comes from the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. It begins like this: “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was” (John 11:1-6 ESV).

As we continue reading the story, we learn that Jesus allows Lazarus to die (v. 14) and shows up four days after Lazarus is buried (v. 17). It doesn’t make much sense. Martha wonders why Jesus comes so late (v. 21). Mary wonders the same (v. 32). And the crowd wonders why He doesn’t keep Lazarus from dying when He easily opens the eyes of the blind (v. 37).

But Jesus decides to keep them waiting for the glory of God. Instead of healing Lazarus, He raises Lazarus from the dead. He doesn’t meet the expectations of the people because He desires to exceed them. He refuses to act in their time frame because He sees a better way. And the same is true for us.

After raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus receives a great deal of attention. The Bible says that many Jews believe in Him (v. 45). However, some tell the religious people about the miracle (v. 46). As a result, the Bible says, “So from that day on they made plans to put him to death” (v. 53 ESV). Watch the glorious plan of God unfold after such a devastating story.

You see, God is glorified through our waiting. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (see Isaiah 55:9). God receives glory as we wait on Him. And giving Him glory is exactly what we’re called to do.

Secondly, God teaches through your waiting.

When Jesus finally decides to visit Lazarus, He tells the disciples, “‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him’” (v. 11 ESV). The disciples are confused. After all, if Lazarus is asleep, then he will eventually wake up.

“Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him’” (v. 14-15 ESV).

Jesus recognizes an opportunity to teach through the waiting. He seeks to teach the disciples exactly what He is talking about. Upon entering Bethany, Jesus teaches people the source of life—Himself. While Martha desperately cries to Jesus, He tells her, “‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (v. 25-26 ESV).

We must consider what God desires to teach us through our waiting. The lessons we gather in the waiting room are priceless.

Thirdly, God reveals His empathy through your waiting.

Don’t miss this. When Mary approaches Jesus about the death of her brother, the Bible provides a beautiful image of God’s heart.

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept” (v. 33-35 ESV).

There’s the popular two-word verse! But consider the context. Jesus weeps because He cares.

I’m not sure what your waiting room looks like right now, but God is there. And He cares. He cares about your grieving. He hears your questions. And He has empathy for your pain—even enough to shed tears with you.

When God keeps you in the waiting room, remember that He is being glorified, He is teaching, and He has tears to shed alongside yours.

By Isaiah Pauley

Isaiah Pauley is passionate about sharing Jesus in a simple way. Follow the journey of this young pastor at, on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page, or on Instagram @isaiahpauley.

Isaiah Pauley is passionate about sharing Jesus in a simple way. Follow the journey of this young pastor at, on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page, or on Instagram @isaiahpauley.