Timing is everything


You hear the cliché “God’s timing is perfect” frequently in our circle of church-going people. The Bible doesn’t say this specifically, but a number of scriptures attest to it. The concept points to the timeliness of God, how he’s never too early and never too late, but like Goldilocks, is always juuuust right.

Though I agree in spirit, it’s a s-t-r-e-t-c-h to validate this in the practice of our living life. For every occasion God shows up at the perfect moment, there are five times he seems tardy. I’m not being irreverent, only candid. The caveat is who is best positioned to determine right timing, me or God?

It is a matter of faith really. For those who deny a loving, omnipotent, ever-present God, one’s circumstances are merely happenstance coincidences aligned at random by luck. But we who acknowledge God as sovereign believe life is the systematic fulfilment of a divine plan that engages our wills with His.

Teaming together with God is challenging; the blending of God’s eternal wisdom with mankind’s shortsighted impulsiveness. Somehow, we think our desires trump God’s, and we expect him to stay in step with our agenda. We pray, asking for the resolution of problems, and expect God to move heaven and earth to make it happen, like, right now. I know, crazy, huh?

You can rest assured your prayers are heard, but we cannot assume what the answer will be or when it will arrive. Answers will either be yes, or no, or not yet. We live an existence constrained by time, while God is free from it. He is referred to as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, simultaneously. His vantage is vastly superior to ours. He knows the eternal impact of a prayer’s answer.

Peter tells us: “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.” (2 Peter 3:8).

(The story goes of someone negotiating with God in prayer, saying, “God, is it true to you a thousand years is just a minute?” “That’s true,” God replied. “And is it true to you a million dollars is the same as a penny?” “That’s also true,” God said. “Well, you see I’m a poor man, and was wondering, would you give me a penny?” “Absolutely,” said God, “in a minute.”)

Can we take a look at a time when Jesus was late for a very important date, the death of a good friend? Please understand, this term “late” is relative, contingent on who’s the critic, God or man.

Jesus liked to hang out with a family of three siblings from Bethany, two sisters and their brother, Lazarus. I find this trio fascinating. The sisters, Mary and Martha, were wired as differently as AC and DC, and not much is known about their Bro Laz prior to his death.

In a nutshell, Lazarus fell sick with an acute terminal illness, and the girls sent an urgent request for Jesus to come heal him quickly. Jesus got the message, but was busy and didn’t respond immediately. When Jesus finally came to town, he was informed Laz bit the dust four days previously, and had been entombed in a cave since. Jesus had such compassion for the family he wept with them, though he knew this death was just God’s staging for a miracle about to be performed. Jesus assertively called Lazarus out of the grave and back to life. This was perhaps Jesus’ most renowned miracle.

On the surface, it appears Jesus was late. That’s what the family assumed, as Martha greeted him with, “Lord … if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21). I understand her thinking. Had Jesus been with the family he would have healed Lazarus, which is remarkable of course, but for Jesus curing diseases had become nearly commonplace. He’d healed the deaf, blind, mute, paralyzed and leprous, all miraculously.

But resurrecting Lazarus upped the ante with the religious authorities opposing Jesus. With this he had now gone too far, and something had to be done. Ultimately this miracle instigated the plot to stop Jesus. It was the raising of Lazarus that explains the crowds seeking Jesus on Palm Sunday, and it was this notoriety that led to the Sanhedrin’s decision to kill him.

Which begs the question: was Jesus really late to the party? Of course not. The timing of his arrival had already been written in the subplot. It was required for the narrative leading Jesus to the cross and crucifixion, and the subsequent surprise ending known as the resurrection. This was all needed prior to the sequel, that is, your salvation. God’s timing was perfect.

Psalm 27:14 says: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”

So, do you ever wonder why it’s taking God so long to answer your prayers? The truth, Martha, may merely be a matter of perspective.

I’ll share with you next week about obstacles to answered prayers, okay?

Dave Hinman

Pastor Emeritus

Dove Church Wilmington

[email protected]

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