The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Seen and unseen'

On tardiness and trust

The book of Daniel? It’s a den of lions, fiery furnace and handwriting on the wall. But there’s also a rather odd story you may not be as familiar with concerning an angel who is running late — three full weeks late (10:10-14).

On tardiness and trust<BR><BR>Daniel is in dire need of divine assistance there in Babylon. Exiled and far from home, it’s tough to keep the faith. So, in a jam like we often are, he prays for help. No response. He prays for days, weeks — 21 days and still no answer. Nothing.

This story reminds me of that time in John’s Gospel (11:1-6, 17) when Jesus is hopelessly late coming to the aid of his dear friend Lazarus who was ill. Lazarus was dead — in the tomb several days — when Jesus finally shows up. Our Lord was informed of his illness many days earlier, but he seems to have been just moseying along, taking his time.

In John 11:20-21 we learn that Lazarus’ sister, Martha, ran to meet Jesus on the road and sassed him, gave him a righteous earful: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (By the way, pay close attention in the Bible when people back-talk God — they’re only speaking for all of us.)

Then Jesus utters perhaps the most famous line, the most significant promise, in the New Testament: “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25). He weeps with his friends. And he does bring Lazarus back from the dead — and makes everything right, in the end.

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