God’s Things Take Time

God’s things take time. Often a lot of time.

I don’t like waiting. Especially for things that I deem “good.” Shouldn’t it follow that if I’m “good” and I ask God for a “good” thing, he should give it to me without delay? I think it should, but unfortunately, this doesn’t happen very often. Why is this? Why does God seem to withhold “good” things from his people? Why, at other times, does he wait so long to give his people the “good” things they desire?

It’s because God has bigger and better plans than we do. (Plans that include things like saving people from their sins; not just delivering us from our seemingly shabby circumstances.) And God works according to his own timetable to bring his plans to pass.

(It is beautiful to note, though, that his plans are often enacted in such a way that our desires are met in the course of time!)

Consider the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. In Luke, this couple is described as, “righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commands and requirements of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Wow! They were good people. And this righteous, obedient couple had a deep desire: they wanted to have a baby. For some reason, though, God chose to not allow them to have one- at least not on their timeline. This, unfortunately, caused Elizabeth to feel disgraced. (It’s likely1 that her neighbors were saying things like, “if she really were righteous, God would certainly have given her a child by now…” Of course, her neighbors were way off in their estimation of her, but God’s people and God’s ways are often misunderstood and misinterpreted.) So, as the years rolled by, they offered their prayers to God, followed his commands, and waited.

After a long time, when Zechariah was an “old man” and Elizabeth was “well along in years” (1:18), an angel appeared to Zechariah to let him know that good things were in the works. He told them that their “prayer [had] been heard” and that “Elizabeth [would] bear… a son” (1:13)! After many years of obedience to God’s law, combined with heart-felt prayer, God let this couple know a little glimpse of what was going on behind-the-scenes. 

(We might assume, by default, that God was just testing them. And now, having passed the test, he was giving them the desires of their hearts. Interestingly, that’s only a small part of it. In fact, the bigger, more important reason God was granting their request was because the “time had come.” It was time for him to send his “beloved son” (3:22) into the world and his son needed a forerunner! God’s desires went so far beyond the good desires of this righteous couple.)

While giving Zechariah the promise of a son, the angel assured him, “there will be joy and delight for you” (1:14). But God had bigger plans for this child. There was more going on behind-the-scenes. He certainly wanted to bring joy to Zechariah and Elizabeth, but this child would do much more than that. In fact, John, as the boy would come to be called, would be used in a very special way in the story of redemption! He would be used by God to fill the role prophesied many years before by Malachi, the role of the “messenger” who would, “clear the way before [him]” (Malachi 3:1). He would be used to, “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God… [to] go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people” (1:16-17). Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son would be Jesus’ forerunner!

God was at work; and Zechariah and Elizabeth were chosen to be the parents of the Messiah’s forerunner. They were qualified for the task: they were righteous, obedient, patient, and full of faith. Yet God waited for the right moment to move his plan of redemption forward.

(Of course, if you know this story, you remember that Zechariah questioned the angel and became unable to speak until the child was born- but the child was born. Elizabeth, however, when she realized that she was pregnant, rejoiced, saying, “The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people” (Luke 1:25).)

About 40 weeks later, a baby boy was born. About 30 years after that, John began his ministry of “[preparing] the way of the Lord” (3:4). (And about 3 years after that, Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of the world.)

So, why do good things often take so much time? It’s because God has bigger plans than we. And he is at work to bring about his plans to redeem a fallen humanity. If, in the enacting of his plans for saving sinners, we get to have the desire of our heart- praise the Lord! If, however, our desires do not factor into his plans, we persevere.

Are you waiting on God to do something in your life? Don’t give up.
Don’t lose faith. Don’t resort to disobedience. Don’t give up on prayer. And don’t grow discouraged if that “good” thing doesn’t come in this lifetime-  God’s goodness extends into eternity.

[1] Ὄνειδος, the word here translated “disgrace” means: “loss of standing connected with disparaging speech” BDAG, s.v. “ὄνειδος,” 711. https://accordance.bible/link/read/BDAG#16439

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