In our series exploring the big questions of life using the big question words Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?’, we  reached the question ‘When?’ this morning. Questions concerning God’s timing can dominate our thoughts (When is God going to do all that He has promised to do? How long must we wait for an answer? When is Jesus going to come again?) and as the psalmists make clear, the question of ‘when?’ and ‘how long?’ can make life seem very difficult:

  • My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? (Ps 6:3)

  • How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Ps 13:1)

  • How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Ps 13:2)

  • How long will the enemy mock you, God? Will the foe revile your name forever? (Ps 74:10)

  • How long, Lord? Will you be angry forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? (Ps 79:5)

  • How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? (Ps 89:46)

  • Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. (Ps 90:13)

  • How long, Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant? (Ps 94:3)

  • How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors? (Ps 119:97)

In addition, we are presently facing many difficult questions (When will restrictions be lifted on how we can live our lives? When will we begin to get back to normal? When will it be possible to see friends and family normally again? When will the pandemic end? When will vaccines be fully rolled out? When can we hope to travel again normally?) and it can be even harder to bear hard times precisely because we do not have a timescale to answer these questions.

Gal 4:4-5 reminds us that God has ‘set times’, however, and we know that our times are in His hands. (Ps 31:15) We struggle with these questions because we live in time, but also because God has set eternity in our hearts (Eccl 3:11) and we can therefore never be fully satisfied with purely temporal answers; we need to live in the light of eternity. We must understand the truths of Eccl 3:1-8, that there are times for every activity under earth and seek to discern God’s times. We can be sure that whilst we may not be able to give a time or date for when God will do certain things, we can be sure that He will not forget about what He has promised or fail to do that which He has said. He does not keep us waiting because He is mean or capricious and we can be sure that whilst total fulfilment will probably never be realised on earth (Heb 11:13-16), God’s faithfulness means we can trust His timing.