God is never late is untrue

Is God ever late? What do you think?

Is God ever late? What do you think?

The entire phrase Christians share is “God is rarely early, always on time, but never late.” It’s a phrase which makes little sense coming from God’s point of view. Of course he knows the timing of every event without it being early or late. So it must be that we share these words from a human, rather than a divine, perspective. It is we who conclude that God is rarely early. We are the ones that say he’s always on time. We believe he’s never late. But is that true?

Is God never late? I would submit God is late, intentionally so, at times.

Consider these examples of God’s apparent tardiness:

1. A father receives bad news. Cancer has come but the diagnosis is too late. He dies. Wasn’t God too late?

2. A family experiences unemployment. The bills overwhelm. The paychecks don’t come. They default on the mortgage and the bank forecloses on their home. God was too late, right?

3. A student waits for potential financial support to come in. If it happens, he will leave to serve an orphanage in Cuba. It doesn’t. He misses the deadline and is left home.

4. A mother’s plane is delayed and, despite repeated prayer, she arrives home late. She missed her son’s concert. So the flight was delayed and she was late, but do we still uphold God was on time?

These are fairly common life situations. Each of which, from a human perspective, says “God, you were late!”

So, if it’s true that God is late, what might be his purpose for being so?

* To display his glory. This was the case when Lazarus first died. John 11:6 (all of John 11) records that when Jesus hears Lazarus is sick, he stays where he is. He doesn’t immediately go to Lazarus. Then, two days later, Jesus goes to him. Upon arriving, both sisters of Lazarus remind Jesus that if he had been on time, Lazarus would be alive. Jesus tells them that if they believe he will show them God’s glory.

It would be preferable to have Jesus audibly telling us that God’s lateness will show his glory. But, why do we believe that his word to the sisters is so different that what he’d share with us? Why can’t we receive all of life, even God’s tardiness, as displays of his glory?

* To reveal the Son. In the previous story, Jesus says those who believe in him will live even though they die and through believing in him they will never die. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. How can he show this? By being late and letting Lazarus die. It’s only by demonstrating his resurrection of Lazarus that we observe the validity of Jesus’ words. He is the resurrection and he just showed us!

Has there been a time in your life when God’s lateness permitted you to see him in a new light?

* For our sake. In the same account, amongst Jesus, Lazaraus, and his sisters are the disciples who are following Jesus. He tells them that Lazarus has fallen asleep and they need to wake him. They think, as most of us would, that Lazarus will wake up on his own. Jesus clarifies that he’s dead. And Jesus is glad that he was not there to heal him for the disciples’ sake (11:14-15). Behind being late, waiting for Lazarus to die, and raising him from the dead is a desire that they would believe Jesus was sent from God (42).

I believe God’s lateness teaches us many things. Patience. Trust. Humility. Faith. Endurance. His lateness is for our sake, a greater and deeper benefit that you and I often aren’t able to immediately grasp.


* Do you agree or disagree (which is totally acceptable!) with the premise of this post – that God is often tardy? If so, why or why not?

Posted on by Cor in FAITH

7 Responses to God is never late is untrue

  1. David

    I agree that it’s overly simplistic to say that God’s timing is always perfect and then have cognitive dissonance forcing ourselves to believe it when it doesn’t seem true. But I’m also wary of being too quick to assign a purpose to His lateness. Verse 35 of that story, the shortest in the Bible, is also an amazing one: “Jesus wept”. Jesus wasn’t just using Lazarus as a live demo of His glory; Lazarus was His friend, and He was sincerely sad that he died. (Of course, it’s rather hard to see how this combines with Him deliberately coming late so Lazarus would be dead) Even before we are able to see God’s purpose for acting “late” (from our perspective), He is there with us grieving in the midst of tragedy.

  2. Tyler

    I believe God is Omnipresent and is in full control. Therefore, he can never be late according to His plan. He may be late according to “our” plan, but he is never late according to His own.

    • Anonymous

      Amen to that. ……

  3. Michelle

    Tardy means that you are behind schedule. But only God knows the true schedule of things, so he can’t be tardy. He might be later than we wish, but it’s perfectly timed according to His purposes. He might not reveal Himself to us during a difficult time, or until after a difficult time, but He was there with us the whole time regardless of whether we knew it/felt it or not.

  4. Greg

    I appreciate the message of the article but I don’t agree that we share the message from a human point of view. I believe it is definitely shared from a divine point of view. Of course God is never late. And yet I need constant reminder of that when I’m in the midst of a crisis. 2 Cor 4:18 says that we focus not on what is seen but on what is unseen. That’s not a natural thing to do and takes effort on our part. Gal 5:25 says we are to keep in step with the Spirit. One of the ways we do that is to meditate on God’s laws and his truth. I do believe we rush and push others to the truth of God’s timing to the point that it can seem like an empty platitude. Instead we should be empathizing with them, sitting with them where they are and then gently leading them to trust in God’s timing.

  5. Nick

    One element not mentioned is unbelief can delay everything in life. Jesus could do no miracles in his home town because of the unbelief. Mark 6. The Lord shows up and is unable to help because unbelief unhinges his actions. Some assume that it wasn’t the Lords plans and not meant to be if it doesn’t happen. Not true. Its been given to us to step out in faith and walk. There are so many reasons why things don’t turn out in life.

  6. Brad

    So, Because I am unable to get a wife, even after asking God for help, and trying for years myself, it is now my fault because I fail to believe I will have one? And every man that has one is a believer or blessed by God for this? It doesn’t add up to me….

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