Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)
Wouldn’t it be great to have a magic gene to grant your deepest wish? You could immediately have whatever you felt you needed. Sometimes it’s easy to think that’s how God should respond to our desires. We just assume He’ll show up on time and make things perfect once again.
The people in Jeremiah’s day faced these same things. God had warned they would go into captivity for their sin and turning from God. But like today, they didn’t believe it would really happen. They felt their country was safe. After all, God delivered them from the Egyptians and the Assyrians; surely He would deliver them from the Babylonians as well. As is often the case today, they had an entitlement mentality as far as God went, assuming that God would deliver them and they would all “live happily ever after.”
Only the Jews were taken into captivity. So God gave them His message through His prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah wrote a letter from Jerusalem to those in captivity in Babylon which is recorded in Jeremiah 29. In it he tells them not to get discouraged but to settle in and make the best of it for God would deliver them, but not for another 70 years. To us God says the same thing, He will deliver but not right away so settle into this life and make the best of things until He returns. We, too, are living in captivity in a foreign environment longing for our real home.
God’s promise through Jeremiah started in 29:10: “This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.'” This is the prophecy that prompted Daniel to ask God what would come after these 70 years. In response God gave Daniel the outline of history until He returns recorded in Daniel 9.
God affirmed that deliverance was coming eventually, but not quickly. He could have done it immediately but needed to teach them things first. They needed to see their need to repent and get back right with God. If He’d have delivered them right away that might never have happened. When you pray, make sure God’s delays aren’t to bring you to repentance. If there is anything between you and Him remove it immediately.
Another reason for delaying is because God was doing other things during this time. Daniel ministered in Babylon and wrote his book. Nebuchadnezzar and many others in Babylon became believers. Several Old Testament books were written (2 Kings, Lamentations, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Psalm 137). If God is delaying an answer to your prayers it is because He has a good reason. There are things is He currently accomplishing by delaying. Remember, His delays are not denials. God answers eventually, just not quickly.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
- Could God be delaying something in your life because there is a sin of which you need to repent? If so, pray and confess it now. If you aren’t sure, ask Him to show you anything that might be there.
- Think of a request you feel God has not been meeting. What has He been teaching you while you wait?
- What other things has He accomplished while you wait?
- Pray and ask for the fruit of patience so you can persevere until He knows the time is right to provide.
Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!
Posted on July 19, 2009