Years ago I read a little booklet entitled The Tyranny of the Urgent. The point of the booklet, as I recall, was that what the important things in life are not necessarily the things that are the most urgent.
In the Gospel of John, chapter eleven, we read that Lazarus, a beloved friend of Jesus, had taken ill and was on the brink of death. This family, Lazarus, Mary and Martha were near and dear to the heart of Jesus. Could anything be more urgent?
Anyone who has ever had a loved on death’s door, knows your whole world suddenly revolves around that person and their condition. Such must of been the case with this family.
Yet, we read that Jesus delayed. He did not go right away. Telling those who were sent to fetch Him that, 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 had to have been little comfort to Mary & Martha. This was their brother! He was dying! Jesus could save his life! Yet Jesus did not respond to the tyranny of the urgent. He knew that there was something more important than the life or death of Lazarus.
According to the Westminster Larger Catechism, the chief end of man is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever. Jesus knew that God’s glory and His glory was more important than the life or death of Lazarus.
But, I think something else was at play too. Our wants and desires become the substance of our prayers. If we’re honest, when those prayers are not answered the way we wish, we wonder, where is God? I’m sure that Mary & Martha wondered, where is Jesus? Why isn’t he here? Later in the narrative, they say as much when they tell Jesus that if you had been here, our brother would not be dead.
All prayers are answered. They may not be answered the way we want or desire, but they are answered. Jesus answered their prayers for Lazarus, but in His way and for His glory. He answered their prayers far more abundantly than all that they asked or thought (Ephesians 3:20b).
Yesterday I got some very disappointing news. Pull the rug out from under you type of news. I was disappointed. Why hadn’t God answered my prayers? I began to doubt if I were doing the right thing. Then, providentially, I read John 11 today. God did answer my prayers—just not the way I wanted. Nevertheless, He did answer and I have to believe that His answer is better than my request and that He will provide far more abundantly than all that I could ask or think. Amen.