When God's Timing Is Taking Too Long
by Joyce Meyer
We all want good things to happen in our lives, but too often we want it now...not later. When it doesn't happen that way, we are tempted to ask, "When, God, when?" Most of us need to grow in the area of trusting God instead of focusing on the "when" question. If you're missing joy and peace, you're not trusting God. If your mind feels worn out all the time, you're not trusting God.
The tendency to want to know about everything that's going on can be detrimental to your Christian walk. Sometimes knowing everything can be uncomfortable and can even hurt you. I spent a large part of my life being impatient, frustrated and disappointed because there were things I didn't know. God had to teach me to leave things alone and quit feeling that I needed to know everything. I finally learned to trust the One who knows all things and accept that some questions may never be answered. We prove that we trust God when we refuse to worry.
God wants us to live by discernment—revelation knowledge, not head knowledge. It's difficult to exercise discernment if you're always trying to figure out everything. But when you're willing to say, "God, I can't figure this out, so I'm going to trust You to give me revelation that will set me free," then you can be comfortable in spite of not knowing. Trusting God often requires not knowing how God is going to accomplish what needs to be done and not knowing when He will do it. We often say God is never late, but generally He isn't early either. Why? Because He uses times of waiting to stretch our faith in Him and to bring about change and growth in our lives.
Wait With Patience
We spend a lot of time in our lives waiting because change is a process. Many people want change, but they don't want to go through the waiting process. But the truth is, waiting is a given—we are going to wait. The question is, are we going to wait the wrong or right way? If we wait the wrong way, we'll be miserable; but if we decide to wait God's way, we can become patient and enjoy the wait. It takes practice, but as we let God help us in each situation, we develop patience, which is one of the most important Christian virtues. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). It's developed only under trial, so we must not run from difficult situations. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing (James 1:4).
As we develop patience, the Bible says we finally feel completely satisfied—lacking nothing. Even our relationship with God involves progressive changes. My relationship with God is so much different now than it was in the early days of my Christian experience. It is not nearly as emotionally exciting...and yet it is better. Every change I've gone through has made me more mature, solid and well-grounded. We learn to trust God by going through many experiences that require trust. By seeing God's faithfulness over and over, we let go of trusting ourselves, and gradually we place our trust in Him. Looking at it like this, it is easy to see how timing plays an important part in learning to trust God. If He did everything we asked for immediately, we would never grow and develop. Timing and trust work side by side.
Accept God's Timing
God gives us hopes and dreams for certain things to happen in our lives, but He doesn't always allow us to see the exact timing of His plan. Although frustrating, not knowing the exact timing is often what keeps us in the program. There are times when we might give up if we knew how long it was going to take, but when we accept God's timing, we can learn to live in hope and enjoy our lives while God is working on our problems. We know that God's plan for our lives is good, and when we entrust ourselves to Him, we can experience total peace and happiness.
The book of Genesis tells the story of Joseph, who waited many years for the fulfillment of the dream God had given him. He was falsely accused and imprisoned before the time came for him to do what God had shown him he was to do. Exodus 13:17-18 tells us that God led the Israelites the longer, harder way on their journey to the Promised Land because He knew they were not yet ready to go in. There had to be time for their training, and they had to go through some very trying situations. They wasted a lot of time wondering about God's timing, but God never failed to take care of them and show them what He wanted them to do. The same is true in our lives. It was many years after I received my call from God in February of 1976 before I finally began to see major fulfillment of what God had called me to do. God's training period simply requires us to do what He tells us to do when He tells us to do it...without questioning or trying to figure everything out.
Learn to Rely on God
Proverbs 16:9 says, A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure. Proverbs 20:24 says,Man's steps are ordered by the Lord. How then can a man understand his way? When God directs our paths, He sometimes leads us in ways that don't make sense to us so we're not always going to understand everything. If we try to reason out everything, we will experience struggle, confusion and misery—but there is a better way. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. This sounds so simple, yet too many people make the mistake of trying to figure everything out themselves. Most of us have spent our lives trying to take care of ourselves, but when we accept Christ as our Savior, we must learn to trust our lives to His care. When we do, we can say with the psalmist, ...I trusted in, relied on, and was confident in You, O Lord; I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands...(Psalm 31:14-15).
First Peter 5:5 tells us that ...God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble. Anyone who thinks they're a self-made man or woman has a rude awakening coming because Jesus said, ...apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing (John 15:5). Humility is a covering that draws the help of God into our lives to protect us. When we humble ourselves by saying, "God, I don't know what to do, but I'm trusting You," God gets in gear to help us. God won't allow us to succeed at anything unless we're leaning and relying on Him. But when we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, in due time, He will exalt us (see 1 Peter 5:6). "Due time" is God's time, when God knows we're ready, not when we think we're ready. The sooner we understand and accept that, the sooner God can work His plan in our lives.
From Seedtime to Harvest
Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us: To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven. This lets us know that we all don't live in the same season at the same time. You should never be jealous of someone who is enjoying harvest while you're still in the planting season. Remember, they had to go through a season of planting just as you are. Seeing the results they are enjoying should be an encouragement to you. Understand and trust that God is doing the very best for you in your present season. Seedtime represents learning the will of God. Each time I choose God's will instead of my own, I'm planting a good seed that will eventually bring a harvest in my life. If you want to be victorious, you cannot afford to get pulled into the world's system, doing what you feel like doing. James 1:21 tells us what we should do: ...get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.
Your soul is your mind, your will and your emotions. When the Word gets rooted in there and begins to change your mind, it begins to heal your emotions and turn your will away from self-will and onto doing the will of God. Living out of one's own soul is equivalent to staying in the wilderness. When my flesh is finally crucified and I get out of my soul and into doing the will of God, that's when I enter the promised land. The promised land is knowing who you are in Christ, knowing how to fellowship with Him, enjoying His presence, and having peace, contentment and joy. Between seedtime and harvest comes a time of waiting. After a seed is planted, the heat, moisture and pressure of the ground finally cause the outer hull to crack open. Then roots shoot down, digging their way through the ground. It takes time for this to happen, and it takes place underground. Above the ground, you can't tell anything is happening. That's the way our lives are. After we plant seeds of obedience, we feel like nothing is happening, but all kinds of things are happening inside where we can't see. And like the seed that finally bursts through the ground with a beautiful green shoot, our seeds of obedience finally break forth into a beautiful manifestation of God in our lives.
When harvesttime comes, the desires of your heart begin to manifest—bondages fall off of you and you see your dreams come to pass. You see your kids changing and your family getting saved. Prosperity, favor, promotion, honor, and all kinds of good things come out in the open where they can be seen. In harvesttime, more than ever before, you hear from God, you enjoy His presence, and you're led by the Spirit. Blessings begin to chase you down the street, and joy and calm delight become your normal mood. Are you tired of waiting for harvesttime in your life? Are you frustrated, crying out, "When, God, when?" Then you need to understand that God's timing is often a mystery. He doesn't do things on our timetable. Yet His Word promises that He will not be late, not one single day. But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day! (Habakkuk 2:3 TLB).
God causes things to happen at exactly the right time! Your job is not to figure out when, but to make up your mind that you won't give up until you cross the finish line and are living in the radical, outrageous blessings of God! The more you trust Jesus and keep your eyes focused on Him, the more life you'll have. Trusting God brings life. Believing brings rest. So stop trying to figure everything out, and let God be God in your life.