From our human perspective we understand time to be a relative matter in which the hands move around the clock in a certain direction, at a pace determined by the speed of Earth’s rotation on its axis. The understanding of time can be traced back literally thousands of years to sundials, even to the most primitive of versions. Man has always been concerned with time as a means to understand his duration on the earth. But, time is exactly that, a man made mechanism.
God’s Time Table…
Often times we try to understand God’s workings based on our understanding of time tables. But, God does not work on our time tables, the psalmist tells us in Psalms 90:4,
For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night.
And then Peter reiterates this sentiment in his second letter chapter 3, verse 8:
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
So when we expect an immediate answer from God, we are sorely disappointed sometimes when He doesn’t work as we would like. We must understand that God is not our cosmic sugar daddy that will just give us whatever we want, when we want. He is not a slot machine, that we put in a prayer and he immediately answers. There will be times when he answers immediately, but then there are times where it will take weeks, months, or even years.
Alpha and Omega…
In the book of Revelation chapter 1 verse 8, John provides for us a revelation of Jesus Christ to his church:
I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Then again in 22:13,
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
Notice in these statements what Christ says. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He did not say he was the Alpha then the Omega, or that he was the Alpha or the Omega. He is the both the beginning and the end simultaneously. There is no distinction between the two. So while Christ is now, he is also in the future, but he is also in the past.
CS Lewis gives a brilliant illustration on page 147 of his book Mere Christianity,
If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn.
This illustration provides great clarity to understanding God in relation to our understanding of time. While we measure time based on our understanding of linear progression, God was there at the beginning, while also seeing the end, and all the while inhabiting the present.
For some reason within the Christian realm of understanding, we have made eternity to be some distance place that we go to in the future. Only heaven is in eternity. When in reality Eternity is forever, time that is without beginning or end. When we try to understand time on our linear progression is when we lose understanding of eternity.
We must rather look at eternity as past, present and future. i.e. Eternity Past (creation, Biblical times), Eternity Present, which we could measure through our current date and time mechanism, or Eternity Future (Christ’s return, Post Armageddon, Eternal reward or damnation, etc).
We must stop again limiting eternity to an understanding of a latter place to arrive. We are all apart of eternity, it is a matter of where we stand in eternity.
So why is there hardships if God already knew it would happen…
Simple answer, and I am not ashamed to say it, but I don’t know. I can provide some insight to hopefully provide a little clarity. Our first reason is the fall. Once man partook of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, sin entered the world. We gained an understanding of wrong, and missing the mark, and this provided an inlet to allow evil to enter man kind. Paul discusses in Romans that while we commit sins, He also discusses Sin as a living entity. Watchman Nee discusses this concept further in his book, The Normal Christian Life.
Also, beyond the understanding of the fall, Romans tells us in 8:28,
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
God has worked out details “behind the scenes” that we do not understand or necessarily comprehend, but He is working it out to the good according to His purpose. This is where living by the indwelling life of Christ is vital. How can we know what God is doing if we are not communing with Him and Living By His Spirit? Jesus himself said that he could do nothing of his own power, but only that which he saw the father doing. He lived by the indwelling Father.
Throughout the New Testament we gain an understanding “this age” and “the age to come.” The writer of Hebrews refers to believers as having “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come.” We have but merely tasted what heaven has to offer. This can help us to understand why some may receive healing, provision, or direct answer from the Lord, while others do not. We are simply gaining a taste of what the Lord offers. One writer explains it by saying, the kingdom is here, but also not yet.
Our response then when trouble comes is to seek the Lord, and desire the understanding of His purpose. Though we may not always receive clarity on the Lord’s workings, as we mature in Him, we learn to trust Him more, no matter what is happening.
I urge you brothers and sisters to trust God, whether times are good or bad, understandable or discombobulated, whatever the circumstances, grow in the Lord; move from infancy (simple understanding and faith) to fully mature (maturity, and trust regardless of situations and circumstances.) It starts with practice, living by Christ’s indwelling spirit, but also with the guidance of Godly men and women in your life.