Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Delay and Denial Definitions
A delay is a period of time when something is late, not on time, or postponed until a future time than was originally scheduled or expected.
Anything that is delayed is not denied. It simply means it won't happen at an expected time, a scheduled time, or the time you desire for it to happen. Instead, anything that is delayed will happen later.
A denial is the refusal of something requested or desired. It is a definite "no" for a request.
The Israelites' Delays
The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt for 430 years. Then their 11-day journey through the wilderness took 40 years. They finally reached the Promised Land. We can see how they experienced many delays, but none of them were denials because they finally happened.
Abraham and Sarah's Delay
When God promised Abram he would have a son, he was 75 years old. The birth of Isaac came 25 years after God's promise. God kept His promise even though Abraham was old and Sarah was barren. That is proof that it was a delay and not a denial.
Joseph was a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams. He dreamed of haystacks bowing down to him. He interpreted it as his eleven brothers bowing down to him. His fatal flaw was telling the brothers his dream and the interpretation.
The brothers were extremely jealous of Joseph because their father Jacob favored Joseph and gave him a coat of many colors.
The brothers first put Joseph in a pit. They decided not to kill him. When some Ishmaelites were passing by, they sold Joseph to them. Then the Ishmaelites sold Joseph into slavery when they arrived in Egypt.
Joseph was accused of making a pass at Potiphar's wife. He was put in prison along with a chief cupbearer and a chief baker. While in prison, he interpreted a dream for the cupbearer and the baker. The cupbearer was released from prison as his dream revealed. He promised to tell Pharaoh about Joseph. However, he neglected to do so, and Joseph was left in prison for another two years. Joseph never wavered in his faith because he knew that the delay was not a denial.
Joseph eventually was released from prison when he interpreted Pharaoh's dream. Pharaoh rewarded him by making him second in command of all of Egypt. Thirteen years after the brothers sold Joseph, they had to go to Egypt for grain because there was a famine in their land. Joseph saw his brothers for the first time after they sold him.
It was a long time coming, but Joseph's delays weren't denials. They happened at the appropriate time.
Job was described as blameless and upright, one who feared God, and shunned evil. He lost all his possessions and children on the same day. He was covered in sores from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. Job never gave up. He was healed, and everything was restored double to him except his children. That's because he will see them again in heaven.
Zechariah and Elizabeth's Delay
Elizabeth was barren. She and Zechariah were devout believers. They prayed for a male child. Yet, they couldn't understand why their prayers went unanswered. God delayed answering their prayers because the timing had to be just right for their son to be born a few months before the coming Messiah.
Zechariah and Elizabeth's prayers were delayed, but they were not denied. They did have a son. John the Baptist was a forerunner of Jesus in four different areas:
If God had answered Zechariah and Elizabeth's prayers earlier or later, then John the Baptist would not have been born at the time to be Jesus' forerunner.
Mary and Martha's Delay
God may delay, but He is always on time. He is never late. The death of Lazarus serves as a prime example of the reason for God’s delay. Martha and Mary sent for Jesus when their brother Lazarus was sick. However, Jesus deliberately did not visit Lazarus until after his close friend had been dead for four days.
Both Martha and Mary said the same thing when they saw Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, and 11:32). The sisters knew Jesus could heal, but Jesus wanted to take them to a place of a deeper faith.
Jesus explained His delay when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Our faith in God might not be tested that way, but God sometimes tests Christians so that their faith in Him will grow.
How to Deal with Delays
You can handle delays easily when you know that the thing you want has not been canceled or called off. It just won't happen when you want it to happen or think it should happen at a certain time.
Know that God's timing doesn't have to correspond with your timing. God had plans for you before you were conceived in your mother's womb. He knows more about you than you know about yourself. Therefore, you should trust God because what He is delaying for you doesn't mean He is denying that thing for you.
Habakkuk 2:3 encourages us by saying:
"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."
Lessons to Learn from Our Delays
God uses His delays to teach us to trust Him on a deeper level. We must trust God in every area of our lives and not just when we are preparing to preach a sermon or to teach a Sunday School lesson. We must trust Him always in our homes, on our jobs, and in every place we set our feet.
We must trust that God has a reason for our delays just as He had reasons to delay what happened in the biblical examples above.
Many of God’s delays are simply unanswered prayers that people have prayed for the wrong reasons.
Accepting God’s delays requires faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1).
God’s delays are part of His providential plan for your life. Just wait until His promises are manifested in your life like the Israelites, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Job, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Martha.
Neither Delayed Nor Denied
Those who love God and His Son Jesus Christ are waiting for Jesus' Second Coming. We really can't say the Second Coming of Jesus has been delayed because no one ever knew the time of His arrival. Only God knows.
The Second Coming of Jesus has not been called off. It will happen according to God's own time, just as the Bible says.