Have you ever been frustrated because your life seemed to be on hold? That things are not working out in your life according to your schedule? Or that God really needed to step into something that is happening and fix it?
I suspect most of us have struggled with questions like these at some point in our lives. Those times when God’s timing does not seem to line up with our own timing. This article will look at why God’s timing is not ours. And how we should respond when it seems God is responding too slowly. Or even incorrectly.
We Have a Finite Perspective on Time
One thing to bear in mind when we are considering God’s timing is that his view of time is much greater than ours. I can recall, as a young child, having a very limited perspective on time. At six years old, I only had a couple of years that I could remember.
And that dramatically impacted my concept of time. I did not really understand having to wait very long for something. A year into the future seemed like an eternity away. Next Christmas was so far away as to be meaningless.
But now, at 68 years old, I have a longer view of time. Christmases go by much quicker. Waiting a few years for something is no longer that hard to grasp. After all, two years is only three percent of my life. I can be much more patient about the future. And I have come to learn that instant gratification is not always the best gratification.
And my shifted perspective on time allows me to better grasp God’s view of time. As an eternal being, time means nothing to him. He does not grow impatient when things are delayed. And he knows just when the timing is best for all his activities in the world.
We Have a Limited View of Events
I like to think that I understand myself pretty well. I am often guilty of thinking I understand other people as well. I read the news and think I have somewhat of a grasp on current events in my own locale as well as around the world.
But the reality is that I am ignorant about much of what is happening. And even more so concerning the why of those events. I do not know myself nearly as well as I think I do. And that is even more true of others.
When it gets down to it, I do not have nearly enough information to know why the world is the way it is. Much less how to fix its problems.
But God does not have those limits. He knows each of us better than we know ourselves. He knows our thoughts and motives. He knows exactly why wars and conflicts start.
Why people are starving. And why others act in such foolish and arrogant ways. He has all of the information necessary in order to make appropriate decisions at the appropriate time.
God Has a Plan
Another thing to consider is that God is not reactive to the events in our lives and the world around us. He has known me from the creation, and everything that I will think, say, and do. As well as what will happen to me. Nothing catches him by surprise. I do not believe that he causes all that happens. But he does know it and has planned for it.
It is tempting to question God’s timing when it does not align with my own. And when that occurs, I find that it is helpful to reread Romans 8:33-36. Especially where it says, “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
When it comes down to it, I am not capable of knowing God’s motivations for what he is doing. Or why he is doing it when he does. And I am still waiting for him to come to me seeking advice. Advice that would be meaningless to him.
A Lesson on Faith
I believe that the eleventh chapter of Hebrews has something to teach us about submitting to God’s timing in our lives. This chapter is about faith. And it uses many examples to illustrate the faith of Old Testament saints. But it also has something to say to us about God’s timing.
In Hebrews 11:13-16, we are told that these saints “were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised.” And who better to illustrate this “problem” with timing than Abraham. God repeatedly promised him descendants as countless as the stars or the sand.
As you read the narratives of Abraham in Genesis it is clear that he struggled with the timing of God’s promise to him. It was generations later before his family grew beyond a small handful of people. Yet, as Hebrews affirms, he remained faithful.
In Hebrews 11:39-12:3, he repeats that these saints were commended for their faith but did not receive what had been promised to them. They were all looking forward to something that they did not see in this life. And they were commended for that.
And his conclusion is that we should “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.”
When I cannot see the end of the road. When God’s timing is at odds with my own. I need to keep my eyes fixed on Christ. And run the race he has put me into. Whether I can see the finish line or not.
God's Perfect Timing
The Apostle Paul is one of the most significant men in the history of the Church. Some time, likely early in his Christian walk, he had an experience that he describes in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. It was a unique encounter with God.
And, as a result, he was given a “thorn in the flesh.” We do not know what this thorn was, but Paul prayed three times for its removal. And he was told that this thorn was actually beneficial for him. Because, in his weakness, God’s power was more clearly seen.
You might ask what that has to do with God’s timing. But I think that it illustrates a reason why God’s timing does not always seem perfect. Sometimes, or maybe oftentimes, I think what should be done is not really beneficial. It is not so much that God’s timing “is off” as that what he is doing instead is better.
And Paul essentially expressed this in Romans 8:28. Here he says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Whether it is a thorn in the flesh or some other challenge you might face in life, if we are a part of God’s family, we can trust that he is using whatever happens for my good. Not that the thing we are challenged with is good in itself. But that God uses it for my good.
God’s timing is always perfect. He sees the big picture that I cannot. He has a plan that he is working out in his own time. And I can trust that he will work everything out for my good.
In his own way and in his time. So, rather than question God’s timing and purpose, I can, and should, simply run the race he has given me, with my eyes fixed on Christ.
For further reading:
Trusting God in the ‘How Long?’
Why Was the Promised Messiah a Time of Waiting?
Will Praising God Help Us While We Wait?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/PIKSEL
Ed Jarrett is a long-time follower of Jesus and a member of Sylvan Way Baptist Church. He has been a Bible teacher for over 40 years and regularly blogs at A Clay Jar. You can also follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Ed is married, the father of two, and grandfather of three. He is retired and currently enjoys his gardens and backpacking.