Waiting on God’s timing
In an age of microwaved food, we have become used to serving our own pleasures at our own will at our own timing – sometimes in a matter of seconds. Waiting is no longer a virtue but an inconvenience. Our reflex response would be to question, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers immediately?” Not long after, frustration, disappointment and doubt will come knocking on our doors.
(See Chinese versions: 简体中文 > 等候上帝的时间 | 繁體中文 > 等候上帝的時間)
How can we persevere when we have been waiting on God for some time to answer our prayer? Let’s look at 2 Peter 3:8-9.
2 Peter 3:8-9 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 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.
1. God’s perspective of time
Humans measure time in terms of days, months and years, but the Bible reminds us that God has an entirely different perspective. A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years are like a day.
Psalm 39:4-5 “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.
2. Our perspective of time
Our daily lives require us to plan ahead. We fill our diaries with appointments and “to do” lists. In the same way, when we pray, we sometimes project our desired timings for answered prayers. That distorts our view of what God wants to do with our prayers. God answers in His perfect timing, let us not mistake that as “slowness”!
3. Our perspective of God
While 2 Peter 3:8-9 refers to salvation and the last days, the verses are also an important reminder that we need to remember that it is God who is patient with us, it is not us who are being patient with God! God is in control of the entire universe, not us.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us
4. Our perspective of ourselves
Are our hearts pure when we pray? Is there anything we need to repent for? Are we treating God like a vending machine? We need to check ourselves if we are praying for God-pleasing reasons or self-centred reasons, even if the reasons appear to be reasonable and good in our eyes.
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Waiting on God with wisdom
Waiting for God’s answers is a very good exercise in developing our faith and understanding of God’s character. Often, we find that when the answers come through, they come at the perfect time, which is often not the time we were thinking of. The next time we are tempted to get impatient, let us remember a few important points.
1. Eternal consequences
Our existence is for eternity. What is 1 or 2 years spent waiting, in the light of our eternity? Let’s continue to persevere. Remember our decisions can have eternal consequences – not just for ourselves, but also our families and future family members.
2. Detours can be dangerous
It is always better to wait for God’s perfect plan. If we are just 5 degrees off God’s plan for us today, and continue down that path, we will move far far away from God’s original plan down the road. Do we want to take that risk?
3. Risking our inheritance
Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. What if not waiting on God will rob us of our inheritance of spiritual blessings? Is that risk worth taking?
Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4. Our own limitations
If we cannot be certain what will happen in five years time, how can we dictate the terms of our prayers when He knows everything at all times? God holds the future in His hands and we have no way of knowing what He has planned, so let us not be foolish enough to rely only on our limited foresight.
5. Pieces in the puzzle
Sometimes, all the things we are praying for need months or years for the right people to line up, in order for God’s perfect plan to fall into place. Should we be placing our faith in what is seen (our circumstances), instead of what is unseen? Instead, we should pray that any obstacle to God’s perfect plan be removed – or even ask if we ourselves are being the obstacle by failing to repent of something?
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
John 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.
6. God’s goodness
God is good and sometimes He withholds His answers as a means to protect us. Suppose someone we love wants to test a new high-speed train, and we are the ticket master. However, we also know that the train lines are faulty and need fixing first before the ride is safe. Would we still give him or her a ticket, no matter how many times they ask? Sometimes we can misinterpret a “wait” or “no” answer wrongly.
7. Emotions make us poor decision makers
We need to be careful not to let emotions, which are fleeting, scream out the wisdom that is needed for decisions today because, in five years time, we will be left with the consequences of our decisions, not the emotions.
We won’t know why God doesn’t answer some prayers quickly, but James 1 reminds us that we can ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom when we do not know how to pray.
James 1:4-6 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
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