God’s Timing is Bad

Awesome picture thanks to c3ph3ld

From my experience, it seems like God often has bad timing.

Whenever I’m standing in line at Chik-Fil-A anxiously asking God about what I should order, He usually doesn’t answer me right away.

The days I have specific plans for how I’m going to utilize my time, that’s exactly when God has someone call me with a need or convicts me to go talk to someone.

On a side note, I can’t really blame Him. He is…. God.

In any case, I think David would probably agree with me on the off-ness of God’s timing. You may recall the story in the later chapters of 1 Samuel: King Saul was bent on killing him, and David ran away for his life from Saul all around the countryside, spending plenty of time in hiding. Saul was on his heels frequently, and there was little rest for the future king of Israel.

It wasn’t until eight years later that God finally sent the Philistines nearby as a distraction that effectively pulled Saul off David’s tail (see 1 Samuel 23). Eight years. Many of you like ‘being on the road’; how about ‘traveling’ for eight years straight because the ruler of your country wanted you dead?

Now since this story is told over a handful of chapters, only so many details managed to fit. Thus, we don’t have much indication as to how David was feeling and thinking during this part of his life, but I don’t doubt he was tired and probably wondering why God hadn’t saved time and shown up sooner. Sound like a familiar thought?

I bet David realized something important, though. There was more at stake than just his own life. There was also the entire nation of Israel, and subsequently the rest of the world, too. David knew that God was using him as a part of His story (Psalm 31:7-8). He also knew that he would eventually be the king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13), and that God has never been unfaithful in any of His promises. Also, it’s a no-brainer God was growing and preparing David for the future even in this tough time.

Let’s flip this coin. 

David knew that asking God to help him immediately in that moment would have been selfish, as the request disregards how others are affected. That holds true today – our actions affect other people, and it wouldn’t surprise me if whatever my Sovereign God does affects everyone in the world as well (ex. providing a way for salvation). Answer me this: do you know how every decision affects each and every person possible, all the time? Of course not. And in our ‘timing’, we tend to forget this.

God knows, though. And He acts accordingly, in His timing.

It was in God’s timing that Saul was practically handed to David in the next chapter. It was in God’s timing that he was later made king over Israel. It was in God’s timing that Jesus was sent to reconcile a lost race. None of this happened within your timing at all.

Think of all the blessings God has given you – think of your life. Has everything really worked out in your timing? In all honesty, whenever I’ve tried to control something more, I’ve almost always ended up being frustrated. God doesn’t run into this problem on His watch.

Are you asking God to do something right now? Is there a dire decision that needs an answer? Seek God’s timing, not your own. If He doesn’t answer right away, appreciate the present meantime He is using to prune you for the future, like David.

Have you ever needed God to answer you right away, but He did/didn’t? If you had to flee for your life for eight years, where would you go?

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Willful Suffering

There’s a myth in Christianity that once you surrender your life to Jesus you have to embrace persecution. For some this causes fear, others curiosity. However, I don’t find this to be true. A simple reading of Acts will prove that there is a time and a place for everything, including not suffering for the Gospel.

Acts 9:23-25 – “When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him [Saul], but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.” (italics added).

After becoming saved, the infamous Paul (formerly known as “Saul”) made some of his Jewish men angry. Yet, he did not face persecution for his faith. And he wasn’t being sinful — he had the help of other believers!

As Christians, are we called to be bold? Yes. Are we called to shed light into dark areas, no matter how much strength it will sometimes take? Yes. Jesus Himself was hated, and since we follow Him we will be hated by others because of Him (Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17). This becomes easily apparent: I still can tell when I meet people in college who stop talking to me once they find out I’m a Christian. Anyone who has ever tried to do evangelism has encountered some hostile individuals when they mentioned the name Jesus in a loving way.

So this is the life Christians are called to; read Philippians 1:29. People shy away from God because He is personal. Many do not want to their true motives and habits revealed.

A good number of Christians take some of the hate they receive from others and wear it like a badge, saying offensive things nonchalantly. While being blunt is often necessary, wearing persecutions like a badge is not Christ-like. It is prideful.

Other Christians, then, are frightened by some persecution they face as Christians and keep their faith a secret, using God’s grace as a reason to stay ignorant of their mission. This is also prideful, as these Christians assume their present well-being is better than others’ eternal well-being.

Another factor to consider alongside Paul’s escape-story above is 1 Peter 3:17: “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (italics added).

So there is plenty of evidence to see that God does not always want us to face persecution for Him when it arises. Think about Paul – what would have happened if he had stayed behind and been killed by the Jewish mob? Well, much of the New Testament would be non-existent. Churches in key places across the mediterranean areas would be non-existent. God doesn’t always want us to suffer because He may have an even bigger plan in mind for the future.

Now this doesn’t give anyone an excuse to run away from life’s difficulties, either. Keep in mind just a few chapters later Paul was stoned in Lystra, and Stephen was the first martyr for Jesus (Acts 7:54-60). There are plenty of other stories of persecution.

Here’s the kicker: Where do we draw the line? When does God want us to endure, and when are we supposed to ‘flee’, so to speak?

I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. Jesus has overcome the world, including all of it’s sufferings (John 16:33). As we seek God’s plans throughout life, He works everything out for good, the best, despite what we think (Romans 8:28).

In life’s toughest situations, I don’t think God will always give us an answer. But I do think as His disciples we are supposed to seek Him and keep on going with our mission. Just like the disciples did all throughout Acts. And if there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that God is always working. Nothing comes as a surprise to Him. That’s what we need to keep in mind. Not simply clarification.

Remember Joseph? Can anyone say persecution? Yet even after being sold into slavery by his brothers and being falsely thrown in prison, he was given a huge leadership role. When he faced his brothers many years later, he told them that God placed him there, through all the persecution, to preserve the nation of Israel (Genesis 45:4). I’m sure many things went through his head during those years, but he simply kept on going for God. He knew God would always carry him through. Perhaps not the way he expected. Perhaps through peace. Perhaps through suffering. But God would always carry him through.

That’s where our focus should be. Not on our possible suffering, but on God’s faithfulness. He’ll work all the details out.

Have you ever faced persecution as a Christian? Lost friends? Gotten into huge fights because of your faith? Have you ever run from a situation where God wanted to use you?