The other day I noticed the leaves were beginning to change. It seemed rather strange since we have barely had a day with temperatures below ninety degrees in months. Even though cooler weather seems to speed up the change a bit, God must have placed the trees on some sort of timer…when it’s time, those leaves are going to change. It’s God’s timing for this part of His creation.
One of the most difficult concepts for your children to understand and accept is the idea of God’s timing. None of us like to wait for something we want or think we need. Children and teens may have a particularly difficult time waiting for the things they have asked God to provide.
If the request they have given to God seems particularly meaningful to them, it can cause them to begin questioning God or even the very existence of God. Why would the God who claims to love them make them wait for something that is obviously so vitally important to them? Why is God making them wait for something others in their circle already have? Why are their acquaintances who have rejected God and his commands getting the things for which God is making them wait? Are they really just waiting or is God actually saying “no” to their request?
These questions aren’t disrespectful, they are developmentally appropriate for someone who is learning who God is and what He wants for them and from them. Often parents will avoid these questions by either discouraging their children from asking them or pushing the questions away without giving a thorough answer to them.
Unfortunately, if we don’t answer these questions our children have, the world will. Satan will make sure they hear all sorts of answers designed to drive them away from God. They will be told God doesn’t really exist, that He doesn’t really care about them, that He isn’t active in our world today or one of the many inaccurate answers Job’s friends gave Him in the book of Job.
Answering your children’s questions by explaining the concept of God’s timing will help them see the world’s answers are merely Satan’s lies meant to convince them God is not worth following. So what are some things you should be teaching your kids about God’s timing?
- God has a plan and that includes certain things happening at certain times. Remember the story of Abram and Sarai? They knew God’s Plan for a part of their life included having children. Yet they weren’t particularly thrilled with God’s timing and thought perhaps He needed their help to speed things up a bit. The results were not great and we are still suffering in part because of their decision to try and change God’s timing. Teach your kids to trust if something is in God’s plan He has already determined the best time for it to happen. If they try to rush God, the results can be disastrous.
- God’s understanding of time is different from ours. God exists outside of time. He understands concepts of time like eternity that we are incapable of totally comprehending. 2 Peter 3:8 even tells us a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day to God. To your kids a day is a much larger segment of their lives than it is even to us. It’s why time seems to move much more slowly for them than it does to us. When God makes them wait even a week for something, it will seem like it takes forever. Remind your children Lord willing, they have much time on earth ahead of them and eternity after that. Practicing patience and realizing waiting a week, month or even years for God’s timing will one day seem like nothing to them – especially when they look back and realize God’s timing was indeed perfect.
- God is wiser than we will ever be. He wants what is best for us and in this case, what is best for your child is waiting a little longer. Isaiah says it beautifully “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV) God knows and understands things we never can on this earth. He knows what will happen if the timing is different and is often protecting us from negative consequences or waiting so the things are in place that will make what eventually happens easier or better than they may have been at a different time.
- Waiting for God’s timing can often help us grow spiritually during the process. Teach your children God’s ultimate goal for all of us is to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. He may realize asking your children to wait now for something will help them grow spiritually to be strong enough to stay faithful later in life for things God knows will happen. It may not be fun, but help them understand this period of waiting is helping them grow stronger and be prepared spiritually for other things to come. Share scriptures with them like Hebrews 6:12, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 40:31 and others.
- If all else fails, just trust God. Sometimes waiting gets so hard, you just have to keep repeating over and over that you need to trust God. It is one of the foundational beliefs your kids need to develop. They can and should trust God in everything. When they do, life just seems to work better. Their stress is a lot less. Their joy is easier to find. Their eyes are open to the blessings from God – even if those blessings come after realizing what they hoped was waiting was actually a “no” from God to their prayer. They may never fully understand why God made them wait, but they just have to trust God that it was in their best interest for some reason. (Often, they will later realize why waiting really was for the best.)
- They need to continue doing what God has asked them to do while they are waiting and not get frozen waiting for God to finally say it is time for what they want. I love Psalm 37:3-4. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” We often get so excited about the idea of being granted the desires of our heart that we miss the beginning of that passage. It is so easy to become so obsessed with what we want right now, we do nothing but think about, talk about and pray about it. Sometimes people will do nothing but that. They forget to continue doing good, befriending faithfulness and trusting (and obeying) God while they wait. Suddenly, these people look up and days, weeks, months and even years of their life have passed and they have not done any good or thought about growing their faith because all they have done is obsess about what they want and for which they are waiting. Teach your kids it is okay to continue praying for their request as long as they don’t use that as an excuse to stop growing as a Christian or doing what God wants them to do while they wait.
No one wants to wait, but if you teach your children about God’s timing, waiting can be a period of spiritual growth. Waiting for God’s timing will be a period of eager anticipation and not a time of growing more distant from God. Please give your kids that gift by proactively teaching them about God’s timing.