Does Jesus Really Love Me?

Unanswered prayers are often difficult to understand. How can Jesus really love you when you pray and nothing seems to happen? Things can actually start to become a lot worse. So what gives? How can Jesus be so loving yet remain so silent on the other end of prayer?

If you have ever wrestled with these questions, you are not alone. This is exactly what happened to Martha and Mary in John 11 when they sent a message to Jesus that their brother was ill and close to death. Instead of rushing to their brothers’ aid and healing him, Jesus waited two days because he loved them. You read that right; Jesus delayed because he loved them.

Love delays
These two sisters sent word to Jesus, knowing that he loved them, had the time to return and had the power to heal their brother. They were expecting his return at any moment to fix the problem, which is why they periodically checked to see if Jesus had arrived yet. The hours were quickly passing but they were probably reassuring their brother, “Lazarus, the Lord loves you. He will come. Everything will be fine. You’ll see.” Imagine Lazarus lying down in pain but with great hope, expecting at any moment to see Jesus walk through his door to heal him. But Jesus didn’t come. Not right away, and Lazarus died. All because Jesus loved them? How does that make sense?

Love helps
Recently, I spent time on the phone trying to fix a problem with one of my bills. About three minutes into the conversation, I heard the dreaded words “I’m going to need to put you on hold.” She put me on hold, and after 10 minutes I was pretty annoyed. “She’s ignoring me. Maybe she forgot about me?” Fifteen minutes later she gets back on the line and said, “I’m so sorry, Mr. McKeen, about that delay. I just needed to work on a few things, and here’s what I did to help you. I got the issue resolved and I waited to speak with my manager so I could get approval to add an extra credit to your account. You should be more than fine now.”

Now, what did I think after that? I thought, “This lady is great! I want her to handle all my issues from now on, every time I call.”

She put me on hold to help me; the delay was completely for my benefit. Knowing that would have completely changed my perspective while I waited. This is what you see in the story of Lazarus. It was not because Jesus received one too many prayer requests and could not keep up with Lazarus’ situation. Similarly, it is not because Jesus is ignoring you either. Rather, Jesus only puts you on hold to help you. The delay is always for your benefit. We cannot always see all that God is doing during the delay, but he is always helping. God is a present help in time of need. The name Lazarus means “The one who God helps.” But God often helps in a way you do not understand yet. But the result is always better than you expected.

The story of Lazarus affirms that Jesus had not forgotten Martha and Mary. He had not forgotten Lazarus, and he was not ignoring them either. Jesus was preparing to give them something greater; Jesus was preparing to give them what they needed most.

Love gives
Any good parent will often say “no” or “not yet” to their children’s requests. Why? Because they really love them. Love gives you what you need most, not what you want most. In the movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Veruca is a spoiled girl who always wants it now. “I want an Oompa-Loompa now Daddy! I want a golden goose now Daddy!” Veruca’s problem was that she could not wait. She wanted everything now.

Sadly, this is often how Christians can treat their Heavenly Daddy. “I want to change jobs now. I want a spouse now. I want this problem fixed now.” But God often delays in giving it because he wants to give his children something greater. God wants to refine your character and give you what you need most – a vision of his glory through Christ. This is the love of Jesus. Jesus knows that your joy is found in beholding God’s glory. Jesus delays because he wants to display God’s glory through his power to overcome the death and raise Lazarus from the grave. But this cannot happen without the pain of his delay.

So what is the delay in your life? Where has Jesus put you on hold? Where do you need to trust that Jesus is helping you even when it does not seem like it? The story of Lazarus explains how to understand Jesus’ love during “unanswered” prayers and encourages God’s people to be confident that the end of the story is going to be better than expected. As the children’s song goes, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Jeremy McKeen is the Lead Pastor of Truth Point Church, a Christ-centered PCA church in West Palm Beach that he started with his wife Lindsay. The church’s mission is “To join God in pointing people to the truth of the gospel.” Follow Jeremy on twitter at: @jeremymckeen.

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