Trusting God's Timing
Have you ever had to wait for God? You pray and hear no answer. You look for God to work in your situation, but nothing seems to change. Waiting is never easy. It is even harder when we see no reason for the delay. How should we respond when we are forced to wait for God?
The Apostle Peter tackled that question in 2 Peter 3:3-18. Writing to Christians in the first century, Peter addressed a concern that troubled many of them. Why was the Lord taking so long to accomplish his plan for the world? When would Christ return, as he promised, to bring the fullness of God’s kingdom to earth? Here is some of the counsel the Apostle gave these early believers as they waited.
1) Remember that God is in control of time.
We are not in control of time. We cannot speed time up. We cannot slow time down. We cannot recover time that has been lost. Time can slip through our fingers and be gone before we know it. If we do not finish a project before its deadline, we will fail a class. If we do not save money when we are young, retirement will be tough. For us, time can run out before our plans are accomplished, leaving us no chance for things to change.
God does not have this problem. “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (1 Pet. 3:8). As an eternal being, God is not bound by time in ways we are. God can accomplish in one moment what we could never achieve in a thousand years. God can sit quietly for a thousand years without letting a single opportunity slip by. God has never been forced to say a phrase that we have all uttered many times; God has never once had to say, “I’m too late.”
2) Recall God’s patience with you.
Imagine a friend agrees to give you a ride somewhere. For 30 minutes, you keep them waiting outside your apartment because you have failed to get ready in time. When you finally emerge from your home and take your seat in their car, would you bark at your friend if they take a few seconds to adjust the rearview mirror before putting the transmission into drive? Would you scold them for taking so long? Of course, not! They have been patient with you; you would never be impatient with them.
The Apostle writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you.…” (2 Pet. 3:9a). He is patient with you! When we complain that God is taking too long, we forget all the times he has waited patiently for us. He has borne with our shortcomings. He has overlooked our delays. He has forgiven us the countless times we have failed to heed his word. Surely such a gracious God deserves a little patience from us. In fact, it may be that God has not responded to your prayers yet because, before you are ready to receive his answer, something first needs to change in you. You may feel like you are waiting for God, but maybe he is the one who is waiting – patiently, lovingly waiting for you.
3) Trust that God has a purpose for his delay.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9) The reason Christ has not yet returned to earth is not because he is tardy. There is a purpose for his delay. He is allowing time for more people to hear the gospel, so that more people can repent and trust him and enter God’s kingdom.
This principle at play on a cosmic level in the timing of Christ’s return is at play on a personal level in the timing of God’s work in your life. There is a reason God has not answered your prayers yet. There is a plan behind his schedule for your life. You may never know why God is calling you to wait, but that is okay. You do not need to understand. You can trust that God knows what he is doing, and he knows the reason why. An all-knowing God never acts without reason. There is a perfect plan behind all he does.
4) Use time constructively while you are waiting.
After assuring his readers that Jesus would one day return to earth, bringing God’s destruction and judgment on the kingdoms of this world, the Apostle wrote, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Pet. 3:11-12a). He went on to say, “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (2 Pet. 3:14).
The Apostle counseled his readers to focus on living for God in the present rather than obsessing over the timing of God’s plans. We do not know when Christ will return. We do not know when our lives will end. We do not know when God will respond to our prayers. But we do know that God has given us today. John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” May that not be so for us. As we wait for God to unveil his plans for our lives, let’s live grateful, godly lives for his glory right now.