Be Careful How You Measure Time
2 Peter 3:8–9 (ESV) — 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
There are two truths this ought to make us aware of:
- God measures time on a different scale than we do
- We sometimes mistakingly assume God is slow—this is because we hate waiting
Not As ‘Some’ Count Slowness
Abraham and Sarah were not only the parents of all of God’s faith-children (Romans 4:16); their lives are perhaps the most famous picture of God’s redemptive purposes in what seems like his painfully slow pace.
Abram (as he was first called) was already 75 years old when God promised to make him a great nation that would bless all the families of the earth and to give his offspring the land of the Canaanites (Genesis 12:1–3).
However, there was a problem: Abram had no offspring. His wife, Sarai (as she was first called), was barren (Genesis 11:30).
Years passed. Still no child. So Abram prudently planned to make his servant Eliezer to be his heir. But God said, “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir” (Genesis 15:4). Then he took Abram out and showed him the night sky and told him that his offspring would be so numerous it would be like counting stars.
But years later, it was still only Abram and Sarai in the tent.
Sarai became desperate and gave up on waiting. She decided that her maidservant, Hagar, could be a surrogate child-bearer for her. This sounded humanly reasonable to 86-year-old Abram, but he did not consult God and the solution backfired, big time.
Thirteen more years went by before God finally told the 99-year-old Abram that 89-year-old Sarai would bear a son, and he changed their names to Abraham (father of a multitude) and Sarah (princess). A year later Isaac is born.
It was 25 years of waiting, while any earthly reason to hope for a child went from highly unlikely to impossible. Their only hope was God’s promise, which was precisely God’s purpose in the long, confusing wait.
No unbelief made [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:20–21)
God determined that all of his true children would be born again through faith to a living hope…
1 Peter 1:3 (ESV) — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and then live by faith (just likeAbraham)…
Galatians 3:7 (ESV) — Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
in his promises alone.
Romans 1:17 (ESV) — For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
So he took patient pains to cultivate it in Abraham and Sarah, and he does the same for us.
How Long, O Lord?
God knows we are impatient waiters. He calls us to wait on Him, yet he provides us with the means to wait well.
He not only gives us stories like Abraham and Sarah’s to help us see that our waiting is not in vain, but he gives us songs to sing while we wait.
Psalm 13 (ESV) — 1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, 4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
These songs are filled with raw emotion, and show us that God knows that our waiting is hard and often frustrating. Yet these songs also teach us that our waiting is worth it.
Worth The Wait
Here are some truths to strengthen us while we wait:
God is Patiently Kind
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) — The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
What Peter calls ‘patience’, Paul calls ‘kindness’. Which means that ‘waiting on God’ is often an evidence of his kindness toward us.
Romans 2:4 (ESV) — Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
God is Worth Waiting For
Isaiah 64:4 (ESV) — From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
God’s Promises Are For Those Who Wait
Isaiah 40:29–31 (ESV) — 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 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.