God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways


Your child, your parent, your spouse, or your closest friend is ill. You send word to the best doctor you know—one who also happens to be one of your dearest friends—hoping your friend will come quickly to heal your loved one. 

But the doctor, your beloved friend, deliberately delays coming. He waits two long, agonizing days to start his journey. During those two days, the worst happens. Death comes.  

  • What possible reason could your friend have for not coming when you called that would satisfy you?


11:1 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. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. List the people in this story. What was Jesus’ relationship with them?
  2. What did Jesus say was the purpose of Lazarus’ illness (vs. 4)?
  3. Reread verses 5-6, replacing the word “So” with “Therefore.” After hearing Lazarus was ill, why did Jesus delay in going to him?
  4. What did Jesus say would be the benefit to his disciples of his not having been present at Lazarus’ death (vs. 15)?
  5. Has Jesus’ delay or silence in your life ever built your faith and/or resulted in his glory? If so, how?


Lazarus was sick. His sisters sent word to Jesus to let him know that Lazarus was ill. Jesus loved Lazarus and Martha and Mary, so when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he rushed to Lazarus’ bedside immediately.

Except that he didn’t. 

Instead of rushing to Lazarus’ bedside, Jesus waited. He deliberately delayed going to Lazarus for two long, agonizing days. Why?

Somehow, Lazarus’ death and Jesus’ delay would bring God glory, reveal more of Jesus, and increase the faith of those he loved. If we are willing to trust God, even when he delays or is silent, he will reveal more of himself to us and build our faith in the process.

  • Thank God that he loves you so much that he wants you to know him in his fullness and to build your faith as he reveals himself to you.