How can we discern God's timing?
God's ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). Therefore, His timing is perfect. He is never early and He is never late. In our natural human impatience, at times it may seem like God is late, but He always provides what we need when we need it. It may be later than our comfort zone prefers, but God does not leave us in the lurch; He may simply stretch us and challenge us to rely more fully on Him by trusting His timing.
In our modern world, we are able to achieve nearly instant gratification and can often get what we want and need at the time that we decide we need or want it. As natural as this seems to us, this is not how God operates. He is accomplishing His divine purposes at every moment, but sometimes they take a while to become apparent to us.
Take David, for instance. David was anointed as the future king of Israel by Samuel, the prophet, when he was a youth (1 Samuel 16:1–13). However, there was a delay from his anointing for the throne to his assuming of it. Historians estimate that it took about fifteen years from David's anointing as king before he actually became king at age thirty. It took certain tribes an additional seven years to recognize David as king (2 Samuel 5:4–5). It seems reasonable to assume that David questioned God's timing and methods during those fifteen-plus years, but God had purposes for David in the wait. David developed a strong relationship with God and the character traits he would need for being king during those years.
Our patience reveals our trust in God's timing (Psalm 37:7; Lamentations 3:25). It is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). God promises to strengthen us during the wait. Isaiah 40:31 declares: "but they who wait for 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" (see also Psalm 27:14).
Our ability to trust God is rooted in how well we know God. He promises that His plans for us are good and that if we seek Him we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:11–13; Matthew 7:7–11; Romans 8:28). We can best get to know God through prayer and through His Word. The faith we need comes from hearing His Word (Romans 10:17). His Word guides us (Psalm 119:105) and gives us hope and safety (Psalm 119:114, 117). It strengthens us (Psalm 119:28) and makes us wise (Psalm 119:97–100), equipping us for life in Christ (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Studying and meditating on God's Word enables us to better know His paths and His timing (Proverbs 3:5–6).
Generally, when we are struggling to know God's timing it is because we find ourselves in a difficult situation we would like to be out of. If we try to do things in our own timing, it is likely that we will feel like all our efforts are hitting a brick wall. When God is in the timing, things tend to work out much more smoothly. When we know God, we can have peace that He sees us and knows our needs. God can use our trials to mature us in our faith and help us to grow in patience. James writes, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:3–4, NKJV). We may have troubles, but God delivers us from all of them (Psalm 34:19). He will work all things out for our good (Romans 8:28), so we can trust His timing to do so.
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