There’s a lovely little chorus my children used to sing when they were little. It’s called “In His Time.”
In his time, in his time
He makes all things beautiful
In his time
Lord please show me everyday
As you’re teaching me your way
That you do just what you say
In your time
Sometimes we can’t understand God’s perspective on time. I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in Genesis 37 and 39 again.
Joseph was a teenager, somewhat cocky and arrogant as many teenage boys are. His brothers hated him. So much so, that, when the opportunity arose, most of them would have killed him. The oldest brother intervened, persuading them not to shed their brother’s blood but rather to throw him down a well. He intended to rescue him later but in the interim the other brothers sold Joseph to slave traders on their way to Egypt.
Joseph found himself in a terrible situation not through any actions of his own. He was a slave in a foreign country. He couldn’t speak the language. He trusted in God and prayed to Him, no doubt begging to be returned to his father. God didn’t answer that prayer. But He was with Joseph in his situation. “When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes. “ (Genesis 39:3-4a NIV)
Joseph was unjustly accused. Again an innocent person suffered because of the sin of others. Joseph ended up in the king’s prison. He must have wondered why God had allowed such an unjust thing to happen to him. Yet again the Lord was with Joseph and everything he did was successful. but he was still not free. He was still in a foreign land.
Joseph was thirty before things finally changed for him. ten years of the prime of his life were wasted. Or were they?
When Joseph finally appeared before Pharaoh, there was no trace of the arrogant youth. Joseph was humble, yet confident in God. God had used the years that seemed wasted to mould Joseph’s character. In the ten years, Joseph had also learned to speak Egyptian, a skill he needed both to communicate with Pharaoh and to fulfill his role as overseer of all Egypt. God couldn’t have used Joseph as he was when he first arrived in Egypt. God’s plan needed time.
So often we find ourselves in a situation where God doesn’t answer our prayers. We can’t understand why He has allowed us to suffer. We pray and we pray. We feel God has abandoned us, we doubt His love.
God uses the unjust, the unfair, the unfortunate trials of our lives to fit us for His future plans. He promised never to leave us nor forsake us and He honours that promise. He is with us when we struggle, when we don’t understand, when things seem to go from bad to worse. Joseph was able to say to his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”
God makes all things beautiful in His time. That is the point. It takes time and we should not waste the pain.
Lord, I am limited by my perception of time. I can’t understand why You don’t bring healing when I’ve been praying for years. Like the Psalmist I want to ask, “How long, Lord, how long?” Even though I don’t understand Your ways and Your times, please give me eyes to see Your presence with me even when there seems no relief in sight. Amen.