The Waiting Game
What happens when God’s timing doesn’t make sense?
Taylor is a 33-year-old working on her master’s in nutrition. She’s fielding several promising job opportunities, but she’s starting to get anxious about marriage. It’s been several years since her last serious relationship, and most of her close friends have been married for a few years now. She’s excited about the future, but she’s also getting a little antsy.
Donte is 26 years old and has been waiting tables for three years now. He doesn’t hate his job, but he’s interested in something more. Nevertheless, his applications to other jobs just go unanswered. He’s ready to move on and take his career seriously, but the doors just don’t seem to be opening for him.
Alexa and Dan have been married for three years, and they’re thinking about starting a family. Well, Dan is. He’s ready to be a dad. Alexa isn’t so sure—she just finished school and is ready to finally enjoy the extra free time. But Dan thinks now is the perfect time to have kids, since their schedules have never been freer.
Your story might not look quite like this, but it’s a safe bet you’ve felt a similar tension—the sense of some sort of disconnect between where you were and where you wanted to be.
We believe that God is all-powerful and that He is loving. But what do we do when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we wish He would—even though we know He could? How do we wait on His answer and His timing without becoming bitter? When we lose the person closest to us or when our bodies break on us or when our minds betray us—when life falls apart—how do we continue to trust God, even when His timing seems to be way off?
There’s no easy answer, but when we look to the Bible, what we see is that it’s full of men and women who had to wait on God, many for a long time (Abraham, Joseph, David and Hannah, just to name a few). God’s timing probably felt odd and unclear to them too, but they show us that waiting is par for the course for people of faith.
So, if you’re waiting for God to answer a prayer in your life in some way—if you’re waiting for health or wholeness or a relationship or a child or a job—here are four reasons to keep trusting Him, even if His timing doesn’t seem to make any sense.
God isn’t withholding from you
When we’ve been waiting for something for a while, it can start to feel like God is withholding things from us, especially if everyone around us is graduating, getting married, acing interviews and having kids. But the truth is that “In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Your life is on a trajectory toward what is good because God is working on your behalf.
God knows how it’s going to end
One of the hardest things about waiting for the big things in our lives—and even for the small things—is the wait can feel indefinite.
We don’t know if we’ll ever be healed. We don’t know if we’ll ever get married. And we don’t know because we can’t know. It’s impossible for us to look into the future and see what’s going to happen down the road. But the good news is God knows what’s coming.
He says, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please’” (Isaiah 46:10). God knows exactly what is ahead for you, and His purposes for your life can’t be shaken.
So when you’re filled with anxiety about what you can’t control in the future, you can trust that God is in control, and His desires for your life will come to pass.
God’s timing is different from ours
God is never late. We might feel like He’s taking forever to fulfill a promise or answer a prayer, but God is always right on time. The difference is that it’s His timing, not ours.
That doesn’t mean that He doesn’t understand our struggle with waiting or how difficult our lives feel in the interim between our longings and their fulfillment. He does understand, and He is compassionate and loving toward us. But His timing is often unlike ours: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
While it doesn’t always feel like it, God’s timing truly is better than ours. Even when things feel slow.
It can be easy to think God’s timing is awful when we look around and see how other people are living. We compare ourselves to them and hate that we’re still waiting for what they already have. But God doesn’t operate by earthly ways of doing things; in the Bible, He declares that “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). God doesn’t do things the way we do them. The Lord is working from a master plan so grand we can’t even comprehend it, and we can trust that our waiting is for a good purpose, even if we can’t see it yet.
God loves you
The reason we can trust in a God who doesn’t do things our way and has a timeline markedly different from ours is because of His unfathomable love for us. It was that love that drove Jesus to willingly suffer and lay down His life on the cross so we could know Him and experience eternal life in Him (John 10:7-18). He is giving you all you need in Christ, and everything He does in your life—even everything He doesn’t do—is based on His deep and unshakable love for you. That love is guiding your life, and when God’s timing doesn’t seem to make sense, you can trust that His love for you always does.
Ultimately, the truth is that as Christians, we are a waiting people. On the daily scale of our lives, we’re waiting for God to answer our prayers. And ultimately, we’re waiting for Christ to return and set all things right and make all things new (Revelation 21:5). One day He will, and all of our waiting will finally come to an end. Until that day, we can cling to the truth that God’s timing is the best thing for us, because He loves us and is working out His good purposes in our lives.