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lateReading in my friend Michael Kelley’s book Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal, about his family’s journey of faith through their young son’s battle with leukemia, I found a passage of reflection taking me back in time. I do not know the fear and grief of having a child with a life-threatening illness, but when Michael writes --

I prayed. I petitioned. I cried. And I felt . . . nothing. Emptiness. Despair. Isolation. Darkness. Where was He, this God who so loved the world? Where was the great Healer? We needed Him there, in that cubicle of a hospital room. Doing something. Healing something. Springing into action. I didn't need a Jesus that was sleeping in the boat while the storms raged around His friends. I needed a Jesus who was turning over the tables of sickness and disease and calling out cancerous cells like they were demons.

-- this I know.

I was taken back to the smell of the guest bedroom carpet, where my nose had been many hours of many nights, my eyes wetting the fabric as I cried out to God. You ever groaned? If you have, you’d know. I planted my face in that floor and prayed guttural one-word prayers til I couldn’t speak any more. The lullaby music from my daughter’s room across the hall haunted me. I felt alone, unloved, unaccepted, and unacceptable. But I knew I deserved it all, so I was trying to be as submissive to God’s discipline as I could. But it hurt. Oh God it hurt.

I was clinging to the hem of Christ’s garment in desperation in those days, beyond begging him for the restoration of my marriage, beyond begging him for forgiveness of my sins, beyond begging him to take away my thoughts of suicide. I just wanted to know he was there.

The Bible says “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). And by his grace I had that faith. A tiny sliver of it, to be sure, but I had it. Half a mustard seed maybe, clenched in my fist. All visible evidence to the contrary, I was still too afraid of the alternative. I was too scared to believe God didn’t exist, that he didn’t love me, that he didn’t care. I was exhausted, but my stubbornness and that speck of faith persisted even in the spiritual silence.

And then one night I heard the voice of the Spirit, not audibly mind you, but clearly, straight to my heart, applying the word of the gospel to me: “I love you, and I approve of you.” Because I had been exposing my mind to the gospel at that time, I knew he meant that he approved of me “in Christ,” not that he approved of my sin or righteousness; that much was clear by the devastation I was in. Like the prodigal son, “I came to my senses.”

In my pained estimation in those dark days, the Lord was moving much too slowly, but I knew in that moment that he is not slow in keeping his promises (2 Pet. 3:9). He was holding me all along, and his reviving word came right on time. I pray I will remember this in dark days to come.

The Lord is never late.

Don’t give up.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end--it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.
-- Habakkuk 2:3

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6 thoughts on “The Lord Is Never Late”

  1. Marjorie Yates says:

    When I went through breast cancer, the hardest test of all was waiting. Four months and three minor surgeries came and went and I still didn’t know if I was Stage 1 or Stage 4, and if I would require chemo or only radiation. Then I met a woman who had just finished her chemo who had been diagnosed AFTER me! Why, God, why all this delay! But God was waiting for me to realize I already had a hope that is an anchor within the Veil (Heb 6) and I was not trusting Him. Simple Radiation only and 7 years later, I’m still fine, but trusting more in our God who is never late, but always precisely on time.

  2. Dave says:

    I have to mentally ill children. Myself and my wife are worship leaders. My personal faith is slowly fading as I watch my children become overtaken by mental illness. My wife and I’s finances have been greatly diminished by medical bills. I have less than half a mustard seeds Faith left. Lord help me. Help my unbelief.

    1. Dom says:

      Dave, I too have two children suffering with mental illness and I have also suffered a couple of breakdowns myself. We are heavily in debt. Please know that you are not alone. I usually see nothing but difficulties, but the Lord, in His timing, gives little signs that He is in the middle of this with us. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Jesus loves you, I believe this with every ounce of my being and He loves your children too. I don’t know how to make sense of it and often just feel very, very empty. I have no easy answers to give, but I believe Deut. 33:27 is true.

    2. Chris Hussar says:

      Dave, I am praying for you brother, that God may give you grace today. Chris

  3. Carol F. says:

    If I’m not mistaken, 2 Peter 3:9 is specifically referring to the false teachers mockery of those who believe God’s promises that have yet to be fulfilled. The context of the entire book of 2 Peter is to warn the believers about false teachers and the ways they try to persuade you to abandon your faith. The full verse states, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” This verse is stipulating that God is patiently waiting for people to become believers. Would there not have been a better verse to use in the article to support your premise that the Lord is never late? As someone who believes context is very important, please let me know if I am not on the right path in my thinking. Thank you. I’ve always enjoyed your articles.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Carol, it makes sense, if you think he moves slowly otherwise. I believe the original context refers to salvation — meaning, essentially, the Lord is a promise-keeper and none of his elect will “slip through the cracks,” as it were — but that it can certainly apply to the Lord’s disposition to his children generally. He hasn’t forgotten them, and he isn’t slow (as we count slowness) in tending to them.

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Jared C. Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, director of The Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

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