We may know intellectually that God’s timing is perfect, but when He makes us wait or when we feel He isn’t paying attention in our time of distress, we might doubt. Yet the Bible shows God is the master of dramatic timing—for our good!
Consider some of the most dramatic events in history:
- The children of Israel are cowering before the powerful Egyptian army, trapped by the sea, when suddenly the sea opens, giving them a way of escape!
- The Israelites are faltering between the prophets of Baal and the true God, when Elijah prays and fire from heaven incinerates the water-soaked offering, wood and even the stones of the altar!
- Daniel, caught faithfully praying in spite of the new law of the Medes and Persians, is thrown into the den of ravenous lions, when God sends an angel to shut their mouths!
- Peter, immediately after denying Christ a third time, hears a rooster crow—just as Jesus had said!
God’s timing and our faith
God is eternal. He created time, so He exists outside of time and is not bound by it. That’s still something I can’t quite wrap my time-bound mind around.
Still, He is a master of timing. You could even say He is the master of dramatic timing, but not for the sake of drama. He does it for our sake—for our faith. His timing allows us to practice faith, and it provides us a foundation for faith.
God’s timing demonstrates His patience
When the apostle Peter predicted that people would scoff and say that Jesus wasn’t coming back, he provided more perspective on God’s timing and His patience. Peter explained, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
God can compress or expand time in any way that fits His purpose. And His purpose is for the good of everyone. Peter continued, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (verse 9, English Standard Version).
God has a little-understood plan to give every person a full, complete chance to repent and be saved. Read more about God’s merciful and patient plan in our article “Is God Fair?”
God doesn’t judge anything prematurely, and He doesn’t want us to either. As the apostle Paul wrote:
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
At just the right time Jesus Christ will return. And at just the right time each one will be judged.
In the nick of time
Think of all the action movies that have white-knuckle countdowns to when the bomb will go off, the oxygen will run out or the asteroid will destroy the planet. The heroes must figure out exactly how to defuse the complex situation—with only hundredths of a second to spare!
God is currently optimizing for more than 7 billion people and trillions of factors! They intermesh in the most complex ways imaginable, yet God will provide the best ending possible for all those involved.Now imagine having untold millions of factors to account for. God is currently optimizing for more than 7 billion people and trillions of factors! They intermesh in the most complex ways imaginable, yet God will provide the best ending possible for all those involved.
Still, in the meantime it can be a wild ride for all of us.
Our view of God’s timing
During that ride, we can lose sight of God’s guiding hand. We can feel abandoned by God and think He is focused elsewhere.
Consider King David’s lament: “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).
In the midst of trials, mere humans can audaciously cry out, “It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void” (Psalm 119:126).
Our merciful God understands our impatience and how fleeting our lives are. And He does give us answers about His timing and why it can seem like He is delaying.
When we wonder why God doesn’t act and why He doesn’t immediately answer our prayers, God responds with patience. He assures us He is not tired or powerless. His myriad reasons may be beyond our comprehension now, but we can know that His decisions are perfect and in our eternal best interest. Through the prophet Isaiah God reminds us:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31, emphasis added).
Seeing things more from God’s perspective and receiving His strength can help us better understand and do God’s will.
“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: ‘For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry’” (Hebrews 10:35-37).
When we do God’s will, when we love Him and seek to fulfill His purpose, we can have absolute confidence that everything will work out in the end.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
This principle applies in our individual lives, as well as on a global scale.
God’s timeline of prophecy
God does give us a general overview of what He is doing and how He plans to save this world as well as offer salvation to everyone who has ever lived.God does give us a general overview of what He is doing and how He plans to save this world as well as offer salvation to everyone who has ever lived. The framework can be seen by comparing the prophecies of the Bible with the seven annual festivals of the Bible.
The apostle Paul clearly showed that the annual Passover reflects the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, to make it possible for humans to be saved (1 Corinthians 5:7). This is the starting point in the plan of salvation. It is also widely understood that the annual Feast of Pentecost reflects the beginning of the Church of God (Acts 2:1, 41, 47).
How the other five festivals of God rehearse other aspects of God’s plan is less well known. See our article “Biblical Festivals: Does God Want Us to Celebrate Them? Why?”
Where are we now in God’s prophetic plan? See our article “Where Are We Now in Bible Prophecy?” for a concise overview of this important subject.
What we can’t know about God’s timing
But God doesn’t give us a precise, unmistakable timeline that shows us exactly when Jesus Christ will return.
In fact, consider what Jesus said after His disciples asked, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus told them and us, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (verse 36).
Even in our own lives, we can’t always know when God will act or answer our prayers. Like Job, we can’t see what is going on behind the scenes. Like Esther, we may not know if we came to a particular situation “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
But we do know God has our best interests in mind, and that He will always intervene at the best time. But that can still seem a long time to us. So what should we do while waiting for God’s timing?
What we should do
God tells us that judgment has begun on the house of God—those who are now called into the Church of God (1 Peter 4:17). Judgment means a time of evaluation, not just a final sentence. So while we are being tested, we should make the best use of our time.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Paul also said, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14).
At all times, it is high time to repent and obey God, especially in these end times. And it is always time to trust God to bring His plan to completion for the good of all. It is always time to live by and grow in faith.
As our faith increases, we can say with Paul, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
If you would like additional encouragement about how to grow in your faith toward God, study the passages in our article “How to Grow in Faith.” God is willing for us to get to know Him and grow closer to Him if we walk in His way and seek His will. For more on how to seek God, read our concise free booklet Change Your Life!
Why not do it now?