GOD’S TIMING AND WALKING BY FAITH

            Last Sunday, the President extended the period of social distancing to April 30th and possibly until June.  Meanwhile, we stay and work at home, wondering if weddings will come off on their scheduled dates,  Christian camp weeks will take place as planned, and whether or not friends and family members will still have a job or be able to go back to work if they’ve already been laid off.  When will all of this end and life can return to normal, if indeed, it can ever return to normal?

            We are tempted to ask, “God, when are you going to do something?  Can’t you see that we’re having a hard time; hundreds of thousands are sick and tens of thousands have died?”  Similar questions were often asked by godly people in the Bible.  David asked, “How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2).  Despite these earnest questions, David affirms the faithfulness of the Lord at the end of the psalm:  “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”

            Fast forward nearly a thousand years.  Pompey’s capture of Jerusalem in 63 B.C. marked the end of Jewish independence and brought about a painful period of servitude under the most powerful empire the world had ever seen.   The longing of every Jew’s heart in this period of Roman domination was to see a restoration of the nation to greatness and glory, such as it had been in the days of David and Solomon.  When would God rescue them from their enemies?

Jesus’ disciples, apparently still holding to this desire for a restored political and military kingdom, asked the resurrected Lord:  “’Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them:  ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 1:7-8).  Jesus did not correct their misunderstandings about the kingdom at this point; they would learn soon enough that it was a spiritual kingdom that would ultimately conquer man’s greatest enemies, sin and death.  It was much more extensive and powerful than any physical kingdom, indeed, a kingdom “not of this world” (John 18:36).  The point here is that the Father has set times and dates to bring about the completion of this kingdom by his own authority.  It wasn’t the apostles’ prerogative and it’s not ours to decide.  As Charles Spurgeon writes, “We are in a hurry; the vision of the blessing excites our desire, and hastens our longings; but the Lord will keep his appointments.  He never is before his time; he never is behind.”[1]

            In the meantime, and trusting in God’s timing, we live our lives praying, “Maranatha!”  (“Come, O Lord”) (1 Cor. 16:22).  As we pray this, and as we Christians, American and otherwise, endure everything from minor inconveniences to the tragic loss of loved ones because of this virus, we walk by faith.  “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
 
David Sowers – 4/7/2020

           

 

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith (New York:  American Tract Society, n.d.) 308.