God works in ways that are very different than we do, or what we would expect Him to. If we are not careful, it can make us frustrated and angry with God. It can even make us question if He is really there, or does He really care about us. I think the devil uses these times to pull us away from God, and to make us think that God can’t be trusted, or He will not do what He said He would do.
My pastor, Chuck Swindoll, once said that God works sovereignly, strangely and slowly. I agree. Let’s break down each.
God works Sovereignly.
Sovereignty can be defined as having supreme authority, control and power over all that has happened, is happening, and will happen in the future in all times across all history. God is totally sovereign. He can do anything, in any way, and at any time He wants to. Who are we to question Him? Who are we to even try to understand His ways?
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Colossians 1:17 NLT
How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! Psalms 147:5 NLT
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26 NLT
I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:26 NLT
I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. Job 42:2 NLT
Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes. Psalm 115:3 NLT
God works Strangely.
Sometimes God does things that seem strange or foreign to us. They are not how we would have done them, and/or what we wanted God to do.
This can be seen in Joshua 6 when God commands Joshua and his men to march around the city of Jericho with 7 priests walking ahead carrying the Ark, once a day for 6 days. On the 7th day march around 7 times. To us that makes no sense, and would not accomplish anything other than giving us tired feet. But God used their obedience to knock the walls down and give them victory.
Another example can be found in the life of Joseph. He suffered isolation and pain when his brothers sold him into slavery. He endured extreme hardship. God protected Joseph and he rose to a high position in Potiphar’s house, only to be cast into prison when falsely accused of rape. However, he rose to an important position in jail. Then he told the cupbearer and baker what their dreams represented; telling the cupbearer to remember him and talk to Pharaoh about him. Joseph stayed in prison two more years, until the cupbearer finally told Pharaoh about him. After explaining to Pharaoh what his dream represented, Joseph became the second most powerful man in Egypt. I’m sure that most of the time on his journey, Joseph wondered what God was doing and why God was allowing all of these bad things to happen.
Joseph saved his people by bringing them to Egypt during the famine. Then later the Israelites became the Egyptians slaves. And four hundred years later, God had Moses deliver them out of Egypt, using many plagues to force Pharaoh to let them go. Then the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness for forty years before they could enter the promised land. This was a very strange path God took to get them into the promised land.
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT
Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Job 11:7 NLT
No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God – his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. 1 Corinthians 2:7 NLT
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? Romans 11:33-34 NLT
God works Slowly.
God is never late, but sometimes it can seem that He is slow.
God told Abraham he would have a son when Abraham was 70 years old. Then many years later, Abraham and his wife Sara felt that they were too old to have children. They got impatient and took matters into their own hand, and had a son with Sara’s handmaiden, which brought Ishmael. When Abraham was 100 years old, God fulfilled His promise and Issac was born.
As mentioned above, the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt for four hundred years, before God used Moses to set them free. Then they were in the wilderness for forty years, waiting for God to lead them into the promised land.
Between the last book of the Old Testament and the first book of the New Testament, there is a gap of four hundred years, spanning the ministry of Malachi (420 BC) to the appearance of John the Baptist in the early 1st century AD. This is where God seemed to be silent, but it was the time when God was preparing His great plan of salvation through His son Jesus Christ.
At times, we all get tired of waiting for God. In those times I want to pray, “God please make me more patient, and do it right now!”
We have to remember that God’s delays are not always God’s denials. He is always working and looking out for us, even when we think He is not. He is always right on time, doing just the right thing when needed.
This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. Habakkuk 2:2 NLT
The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. Psalm 145:8 NLT
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete needing nothing. James 1:3-4 NLT
It is important that our children understand that God works sovereignly, strangely and slowly. It is not how we expect, not in the way we want, and it is not in the time frame we think it should happen. We just have to trust Him and remember that He knows best and is in full control of everything. Our children need to see us trusting in God, and allowing Him to work in His way and in His timing. Then they will also learn to trust in God and how He works.