Discerning the Difference Between God's 'No' and 'Not Yet'


Many times in life God has asked me to wait when I wanted to move forward. He has required patience of me when I wanted progress.

I have had to learn that when God says, "Not yet," that He is not necessarily saying, "No."

It is very challenging to accept and to patiently endure the waiting times of life. The major challenges in my walk of faith have occurred when God asked me to spend time in His waiting room. I have had to learn to trust God's timetable that is often vastly different than my own. It is in the waiting room of life that we, as God's dear children, learn to believe in His promises, trust in His time and have faith in His character.

Mary and Martha had to wait when their brother Lazarus had died. Although they sent word to the Lord concerning the crisis they were facing, He willfully chose to stay away for two more days. I am sure that those two days seemed endless to the heartbroken Mary and Martha. Two days can seem like two years when you have asked the Lord to move on your behalf but all you receive is silence.

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"Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He remained where He was two more days" (John 11:5-6).

This is a very strange response by someone who was known to love Mary, Martha and Lazarus deeply. When Jesus finally arrived, Mary and Martha were deeply grieving and Lazarus was dead. These two sisters said to the Lord, "If You had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21).

I can imagine Jesus tenderly taking these two anguished women in His arms and saying, "Do you believe in Me?" (see John 11:26)

It is a question that we all must answer in the waiting room of life: "Do you believe in Me?"

How does grief respond to the character of the Lord? Where is your faith when God has asked you to wait beyond your human endurance? The waiting room is a place of testing, and it is also a place where a beautiful work is accomplished that can happen nowhere else. Progress and instant gratification don't have the power to create the masterpiece that patience and trust are able to produce in a weary man's life or in a discouraged woman's heart.

Jesus could have easily changed His plans or His travel route and immediately come so that Lazarus did not die. Instead, Jesus waited two extra days because He had a wonderful plan of glory and resurrection. Jesus allowed a disaster to occur so that their faith would be strengthened and in order that the glory of God would be visible to the brokenhearted.

I believe that God still does that very thing to those of us who love Him today. The same Lord who raised Lazarus from the dead is able to raise your dead dreams, your dying marriage and a broken relationship.

We can rest assured that God's ways are higher than our own and that He only asks one of His dearly loved children to wait so that He can show His glory. How wonderful to know that He is patient with us when we are learning to be patient with Him!

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol has written 11 books, including Significant, StormProof and Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.

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