Craig Groeschel - Why Is God So Slow?
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Well, one of the worst feelings in life... is to wait. How many of you know what I'm talking about? You can type that in the Comments section online because you were waiting a long time for me to say anything. Thanks for staying on. I don't know about you, but like I'm one of the worst waiters around. Yeah, you put me in traffic and make me wait, you might see your pastor sin. I'm not proud of it, I'll confess it, but I'm not good at awaiting. Now, you put me in a line at a grocery store, I will analyze the age, the speed of the checker versus the volume of groceries in the person's cart in front of me, and come up with a calculus equation to determine which one is the faster. You slow-reply to me on a text, and we're not gonna be friends. If I slow-reply to you on a text, we're not gonna be friends.
How many of you know it's hard to wait? Especially, when you're waiting on God? Do any of you know what I'm talking about? Yes. Some of you've been waiting a long time and you've been praying for something. God, I'm praying and I'm believing. I'm believing, and asking that You would bring me a spouse. I wanna be married. Or you've been praying and waiting on God to help you in your marriage, "God, please do something, I need Your help". Or you've been asking God to help you get pregnant, or to heal from your depression, or to get out of your debt. Some of you, you've been waiting on God for so long, you wonder if God is even listening. Does He even care? Is He even there? If you've ever felt like God is taking too long, Jesus understands. Today, we're resting with the question, "Why is God so slow"?
And, Father, we ask that as we wait on You, build our faith to trust in You. Knowing You're a good God who loves us, Your timing is always perfect and You are always good. So, help us to put our faith in You. We pray today, in Jesus' Name, and everybody said? Amen. Amen and amen.
We are in a message series called "Been There", and I wanna say for the most part, whatever pain you're facing, or whatever challenge you're enduring, Jesus has most likely been there. If you hate waiting on God, "God, why is it taking so long"? Jesus has actually been there too, and I'm gonna show you how exactly He was waiting on God. And I can't get into His mind, but you can imagine if He was God in the flesh, which He was even as a child, He would've known His mission was to come and to seek and save the loss, to give His life as a ransom, to pay the price, to save us from the penalty of our sins that He came to give His life, and life more abundantly. And yet, He had to wait 30 years before He ever started His public ministry. 30 years.
If I'm watching the show and it buffers... For three seconds, I'm watching a different show. He had to wait 30 years before He ever got the green light to do the very mission that He was sent to do. And so, if you've ever found yourself impatient or obsessing about time, you aren't the only one. In fact, I learned in seminary that John, one of the disciples in John's Gospel, John was actually pretty obsessed with time as well. It's really interesting if you read His Gospel, you'll see Him use the word Time over and over and over again. 35 different times, John mentioned the word time. Then, seven different times, he actually quoted Jesus as talking about a specific hour or the time that would come, in other words, Jesus said a few times, "My time has not yet come," or "My hour has not yet come". And then, another time He said, "My hour has almost come," And then Jesus finally said, "My time or my hour has come".
In fact, I'll show you one of those examples in John 2, just to kind of give you an example. It's the story of when Jesus went to a wedding where He changed water into what? He changed water into wine, which is wine drinker's favorite Bible story, and they quote it all the time and then everybody else says, "But it was non-alcoholic wine," and we'll save that debate for another sermon, but we might as well acknowledge it's there. And so, in John's Gospel, John 2:3, the text tells us this, that "The wine supply at this wedding ran out during the festivities," now, this is funny to me. So, Jesus' mother told Him, "They have no more wine".
Now, I'm gonna pause there just for fun and tell you, this actually sounds like a statement, but this isn't a statement, this is actually a command. She was saying, "Do something about this". And the reason I know is because when she said it, she said, "They have no more wine," she raised her eyebrow. You say, "How do you know that it's not in the Bible"? But I just, God just showed me that she did that because I've seen it so many times. Amy will look at me, and she'll say something that sounds like a statement, but it's not. It's actually an assignment. She'll say, "The trash is full," and she'll raise her eyebrow, and that means, "Do something about the trash".
And I'll do something to her, it's very similar. I'll look at her, raise my eyebrow, and say, "You look really cute". And then, she'll look back at me and she'll say, "The trash is really full". And that's how it goes at our house, and so, Jesus' mother, I'm sorry, Jesus' mother was getting into His business, and she said, "The wine, they're running out of wine". And Jesus says, "Dear woman, that's not our problem". Now, watch what He said, Jesus replied, what? Say aloud with me, He said, "My time has not yet come". It's not God's timing for me yet, I'm waiting until God says, "Go". There are four different times in John's Gospel alone that Jesus says, "My time has not yet come".
It's hard to wait, not God's timing yet. I know He can do it, but He hasn't done it yet. It's really, really hard when you know He can, and you don't know why He doesn't. And if you're even a normal Christian, honest enough to get past the Sunday-School-type answer, sometimes, you go, "Where is God? Why isn't He doing anything about this? What is God doing while I'm waiting"? And I wanna try to answer that question with Scripture today, "What is God doing while you're waiting"? And the good news is that while you are waiting, God is working. While you're actually waiting and trusting on God, Scripture says, "He is active in ways that you may not even know". The Old Testament, the Prophet Isaiah 64:4 says, "Since the world began," meaning for all times, always, forever and ever, "No ear has heard and no I has seen a God like You, who works for those who wait for Him. While you are waiting, God is working". That's right.
That may raise the question, you might ask, "Well, how is He working? What's He doing"? And I'll try to answer that according to what I've studied in God's Word, and the answer is, sometimes God is working on it, whatever it is. That It that you want, He's working on it because it's not ready yet. You're waiting, and He's working on it. I give you an example, and this one is very emotional to me. Before I was a Christian, I was very, very broken, very far from God and didn't know how to treat or honor a woman in a way that would be pleasing to God or just even, right, and so, when I became a Christian, I just stopped dating completely and felt like it was an assignment to just stop and detox from what I had seen in the world and start to pursue God and learn how to treat and honor a woman.
And so, I was praying, and while I was praying, I had no idea God was actually working. I was waiting and I was praying, and all that time, even though I didn't know Amy, she had grown up as a Christian, but she went into college and like a lot of college students, she had drifted from God, and I was praying for the one that would be my spouse. And I was waiting for the one, and God was working. And behind the scenes, God ticked off another person who was a good friend of hers and brought him into the Kingdom, and then that guy went and witnessed to Amy and to her roommate, and Amy and her roommate had a radical step back to the faith in Jesus, and all that time, I had no idea.
While I was simply praying, and while I was waiting, God was working and getting her ready to bless me, and getting me ready to be a blessing to her. Why is God taken so long? Why isn't God doing what I know He can do? I'm praying for my husband, He's still not nice. I'm asking God to take my depression away. I'm still battling with depression. I'm praying, "God, I know You can take my migraines away. Why won't You God"? Why is God taking so long? Maybe He's working on it, it's not ready yet. Or maybe you are not ready yet. Maybe God's working on you. What I found is a lot of times I'll ask, "God, why won't You give me what I want? I want it now," and there are almost times where I feel like God would say, "You can't handle it yet".
Some of you right now, you'll find this, you're praying for something like, "God, I just... Well, give me some money, God, give me some money. God give me some money, God, give me some money". And God's like going, "You can't handle money, you can't even handle what you got right now. Why don't you become faithful to what you've got before I give you a little bit more"? You got quiet in here all of a sudden like you're, "I don't know what you're talking about. You must be talking about my friend". God, give me more influence. God, I just want more influence. I just want more influence, God might say, "I'm gonna grow your character before I increase your influence". "I don't want your talent to take you somewhere where your character can't keep you". God may say, "I want to mature you, I wanna do something in you".
I remember early years of ministry, God just like grow the ministry, grow the ministry, and God gave us a Gideon revival, it went backwards. It's a Gideon revival, Gideon's army went down our... Our ministry went down, and I felt horrible. I felt so bad, and I blame myself. And God showed me if I blame myself for the decrease, I might take credit for the increase. God had to do something in me to prepare my character, to handle what He wanted to give me. He may be teaching you right now while you're waiting to trust Him. If He just gave it to you, you just kind of keep going on, and maybe He's teaching you to depend on Him in a way that you wouldn't otherwise. He's doing something in you.
What I've found is that sometimes God does something in you before He does something through you. Sometimes, He'll do something in you before He does something for you. And you see all sorts of examples in Scripture. There was Saul, you may remember the guy that hated Christians and killed Christians, and he had this radical conversion when he was blinded by the light and Saul became Paul. And all Paul wanted to do was preach. I just wanna preach, give me a chance to preach. Jesus, save me, and I wanna tell people about the good news of the Gospel, and he wanted to preach. And depending on what commentaries or what scholars you read, some will say that it was about a decade, maybe longer, that He was building tents while God was building character, or building the Word into him before he could fully use his gift.
Maybe even a decade or so while he's ready to go, and God says, "Slow," I need to do something in you first. What's God doing while you're waiting? God is always working while you're waiting. From the beginning of time, no eye has seen, no ear is heard about all that God does, how He's working for those who are waiting. So, what do you do while you're waiting? What do you do while you're waiting? Well, since you know God is working, don't waste the waiting. Don't waste the waiting. A waiting season isn't a wasted season if you continue to seek and push into God. I will say it this way because I know, and my heart goes out to so many of you. There are many people in my orbit, our close inner circle right now, that are really crying out to God, praying for healing in very dark situations. Praying for miracles in marriages. Praying for supernatural touch of God.
And I would just say this, don't wait passively. What does a waiter do at a restaurant? They serve, in other words, let's be serving while we're waiting. Let's be growing while we're waiting. Let's not wait, let's passively, let's wait actively and pressing into God. For example, when I was praying and kind of waiting on God to do work in Amy, I didn't even know God was doing the work on Amy, but I was waiting, let me tell you what I was doing. I was detoxing, and on Saturday nights I had what I called date nights with God. This is cheesy, but remember this was the late '80s, and that was probably cool back in the late '80s. And so, I would literally drink near beer, which you don't know what that is, but it's non-alcoholic beer because I had a propensity or dependency on alcohol, so I was weaning myself off of this, and then I would listen to cassette tapes.
I know that some of you don't know what that is, but you can Google it or ask your grandma. And I would listen to cassette tapes on marriage, and I would take notes about how to have a godly marriage. And I would journal about how I'd wanna treat a woman one day. And then, I started writing love notes to the person that would become my wife, didn't know who it was, but like, okay, God knows who you are. And so, I had a shoebox full of love notes. And crazy enough, about a month into dating Amy, I gave them to her and said, I think these are for you, which is really a good thing that she was the one, because it would've been... Really awkward, three months later to say, "Sorry, can I have those back, they were for somebody else". But the whole time it wasn't a passive waiting, but it was a passionate, persistent pursuit of God in the waiting.
It's never-ever easy but don't just wait passively, but wait faithfully, maybe doing something that helps you grow closer to God. And what I wanna do is I wanna show you something that maybe will build your faith in God's timing. And I'll give you a little History from the time of the Garden of Eden, all the way from the beginning of creation to the birth of Christ, the world was waiting on a Messiah. It had been prophesied over and over and over again, "The Messiahs coming, the Messiahs coming, the Messiahs coming," and for generation after generation, people wonder, "Why is God taking so long"? And though they didn't know then, we know now that the world wasn't ready yet. The world wasn't ready.
And I give you a little bit of History known as the period of the, it was the Inner-Testamental Period. And this was the 400-year period between the Book of Malachi or even some would say, Nehemiah, to the end of the Old... The end of Old Testament, Malachi through John the Baptist, during that 400-or-so-year period, no prophet spoke on behalf of God, which was brutal because before that time, while they were waiting on the Messiah, at least God was talking. And suddenly, there was nothing which may feel like some of what you feel right now. You're praying for something, and you're believing for something and you're having faith in God, and you're pursuing God, and you're trying to keep pressing into God, but it feels like God's gone silent. Like He's dark like there's nothing there. And you're just asking for a sign, give me a sign, anything.
A feeling, a Bible verse, a song on K-LOVE that I really, really like, God, just give me anything. And yet you feel like He's just silent. And I wanna remind you that just because God feels silent doesn't mean that He's absent. While you are waiting, He's still working. He's still the God of the Universe. He's working behind the scenes to bring about good to all those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, so while you're waiting, He's working. And what is He doing? Well, the world was waiting on a Messiah, and He simply wouldn't come. And Genesis 4 tells us this in verse 4, "But when," the what? Let's say it aloud, "But when the right time came," what did God do? God sent His Son. When the time was perfect, when the time was right, God sent His Son, and looking back, we can see why God waited for the exact time.
I'll give you three things that I could actually show you, probably 10 or 15, but giving you three things that happened during this time. During that 400-year period, number one, there was the Socratic method that became a new way of learning, instead of the didactic method where there was a direct teaching of truth. For the first time in History, people were encouraged, students were encouraged to ask questions. And then, throughout all of History, the Old Testament had been written in Hebrew until maybe 280 years or so BC. Number two, the Old Testament was actually translated into Greek during that 400-year period. And the third thing which was world-altering is that Alexander the Great conquered the world.
Now, on a side note, if you conquer the world, they add Great to your name, Alexander the Great. What does this mean? Well, it means, now there was a common language. Everyone spoke a little Greek. And during that time, there was something known as the diaspora where the Jews were forbidden to live in Jerusalem, so they spread all over the world and Rome was developing roads and highways throughout the entire Empire. So, therefore, during that 400-year period, while they were waiting, God was working. And for the very first time in History, we see three things. The first thing is the people were encouraged to ask questions, and God sent the answer, whose name was Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The second thing is that everyone now had access to the Bible in a language that they understood.
And number three, for the first time in History, the Good News could spread in a common language through the Jewish people to the entire known world. While they were waiting, God was working, setting up things for the spread of the Gospel when the time was just right. Beautiful. Not early, and not late. But in the perfect time, God sent His Son, born of a Virgin, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Not to come for the healthy, but to come for the sick. Not to come for those who proclaimed that they were righteous. But to come for those who are broken in sin. When the time was right. When the time was just right. When the time was just right, God sent His Son.
So, if you're struggling a little bit in you're waiting like, I get it, man, I get it, I totally get it. You're asking God to answer your prayer. Like, when will my child come to Christ? When will I get a job with benefits? When will You do something in this marriage to get us out of the pain? When can I get a real house or get a car that runs, whatever it is, you're waiting. It may not even be some of those big things. It may be some of the more small and annoying things. For example, it's almost embarrassing for me to tell you this, but this is where many of you live since August. I've been dealing with this ongoing, reoccurring skin issue that's just driving me crazy. If I, you didn't see me with my little powder on right now that I have to wear for the things that they make me wear.
You see my face is all blotched up and then it... When I get my face fixed, then it moves to my body, and I'm like a dog. I just sit and scratch all over, all the time. And it's the worst at night. And I'm kind of going, "God, where are you? I've got the best doctors, I've got the best dermatologist. I'm doing everything right, I'm using soap that doesn't have anything in it, not even soap. I mean they're like, I'm using, I'm like just, I'm like, You know nothing, I'm doing it all right. And God, remember, I'm on Your side. I'm serving You, and I can't sleep more than three or four hours a night, God, what are you doing"? Well, maybe I got more prayer time, and so I'm praying more.
And so, if you feel a little more prayed for, just know that I'm praying for you. I shouldn't have started that, man, it gets bad when you start. I mean I am praying for you, and I'm taking the time actively, not passively, and when I'm awake, I'm praying for you. If you feel like you're in a holding pattern right now, it seems like God's giving you the silent treatment. I wanna remind you, just because He's silent doesn't mean that He's absent. What I promise you is our good God loves you and He's not ignoring you, He's not neglecting you, and He has not forgotten you. Maybe it's not ready yet. Maybe God's working on it. Or maybe you are not ready yet, and God's still working on you. Or maybe, and I have to tell you this, maybe God's not ever going to do what you're asking Him to do. Maybe He's not. Because He's still God, and it's not about our preferences, it's all about His glory.
Scripture says this, in fact, God said, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As high as the Heavens are above the Earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts". If you're waiting, God is working and maybe He's working on it, maybe He's working on you. Or maybe He's not ever gonna do exactly what you want Him to do because He is not there to serve our wishes. We are here to serve Him and glorify Him. And we have to remember that we serve God. Jesus learned that He knew it, He lived it. My time is not, it's not about what I want. It's not my time yet.
God hadn't said it's the time. Then God did say it was the time, and when it was the time, it wasn't for Jesus' benefit. Meaning, what God called Him to do was not something Jesus in His own physical desire for comfort wanted to do at all. Jesus said; this He said, "The hour has come". Before He said it hadn't come, now it's come for the Son of Man to be glorified. And how did He feel about this? Well, finally, I get to suffer. Here's what He said, "Now, my soul is troubled, and what shall I say, Father, save me from this hour"? Jesus said, "No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour".
Father, glorify Your Name. Father, glorify Your Name. God, if You do what I want, when You want, glorify Your Name. If You do what I want later than I want, when You want, God, glorify Your Name. God, if You never do what I want, glorify Your Name. God, glorify Your Name because He is the Supreme Creator of the Universe, and yet He loves you, and He always has your best interest at heart, and your best interest isn't always what you want now. He's got Eternity on His mind. And the good news is while you're waiting, He is working. He is working, He is working. He is working in all things. Everything for the good, for your good, to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. It doesn't say for exactly what you want, but it does say for your good.
So, while itching, I'm gonna be praying because it's not what I want, but, Father, glorify Your Name. And so, ultimately, here's kind of where I stand. I'm gonna trust in Him, I'm gonna trust Him, I'm gonna trust Him. I'm gonna tell you right now with everything in me, I believe that all things are possible with our God. That the Name of Jesus is bigger than depression, and the Name of Jesus is bigger than cancer. And the Name of Jesus can save any brokenness. The Name of Jesus is bigger than pornography addiction or alcohol addiction or methamphetamine addiction or any kind of sexual.
The Name of Jesus is bigger than sexual addiction. The name of Jesus is bigger, we call on Him. We believe He can, we believe He can, we believe He'll heal. We believe He'll restore, we believe He'll bring back the broken relationships. We believe that He'll heal the cries of our heart. We believe that we will be free. We believe that we'll see Him work. We'll see, we believe we'll see Him restore the relationship, we believe that He can, and we believe that He will. We believe He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than all we can ask, think, or imagine according to His power that He is at work within His people through the church that He may be glorified. We believe that He can, and we believe that He will. And even if He doesn't, we still believe. We still worship Him.
We still praise, and Father, glorify Your Name. Glorify Your name, glorify Your name. We trust You, we trust You, we trust You. We trust You, I believe that You can. I believe that You will, and even if You don't, God, I still believe. Father, glorify Your Name. And God, we ask that right now, as I know there are so many people that crying out to You, some who've maybe even given up, wondering if You're there. God, would You build our faith, teach us to trust You? God, draw us close. God, we thank You that while we're waiting, You're always working, so that since You're working, we're not gonna waste the waiting. We're gonna press into You.
As you're reflecting in prayer today at all of our churches, I wonder how many of you are waiting and praying. and believing that God would do something. Would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up, all of our churches online. You can type in the Comments section. I'm waiting on God, right now, you can just type in, "I'm waiting on God," you may even say what it's for. I'm waiting for restoration. I'm waiting for healing. I'm waiting for provision. I'm waiting for a job, whatever it is, and we're gonna pray for what you're waiting for.
God, we just cast all of our burdens and our anxiety on You, and we come to You, God, knowing that You're a good God, that You hear the cries of our heart, so we ask You for healing in the Name of Jesus. We ask You for provision in the name of Jesus. God, we asking You for restoration. God, we asked that you would work. And God, we do, we believe that You can, that all things are possible. And God, we believe that You will, that You hear the cries of our hearts, and yet ultimately, God, we do trust You, we trust You. We trust You. We trust You, glorify Your Name even if You don't, God, we still believe. We still believe.
As you continue praying today, I wonder, you're waiting on God, I want you to think about this. What if the God that you're waiting for is waiting for you? What if He's waiting for you? 2 Peter 3:9, let me quote Scripture to you. The Bible says that "The Lord is not slow. He's never-ever slow," the Scripture says, "In keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, He is patient with you". What if the God you're waiting for is waiting for you? He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. What if the God that you're waiting for is waiting for you because He loves you, He's patient. He doesn't want anyone to be without Him. He wants everyone to know Him.
There are some of you today that you're not walking with Him, just kinda like Amy wasn't early in college, and the Holy Spirit was working on her, drawing her back. And maybe the Holy Spirit's working on you, drawing you today, what do we do? What do we do, we just recognize, and acknowledge God, I don't know You or I'm not walking with You. And we step away from whatever's keeping us from Him and we just surrender to Him. Scripture said, "Just come to Him as you are. Come to Him right now," just come to Him. Just come to Him. Just come to Him, He says, "I'm knocking on the door, if anyone answers, I'm gonna come in". He wants you to come, and just come as you are.
You say, "But I'm full of sin," He came for the sinners. "But I'm broken," He came for those who are broken. You just say yes; you just say yes wherever you are. When you cry out to Him, the Name of Jesus, God hears your prayers, He forgives your sins, and He makes you new, wherever you are. Whatever you're going through, however, broken you feel, you just come to Him; what if He's waiting on you? When you come to Him, He'll make you brand-new. Wherever you're watching from those that say, "I need Him, I need His forgiveness today. By faith, I'm just coming to Him by faith. I give my life to Him," when you do, He hears your prayers. He forgives your sins, He makes you new. Wherever you're watching from, you say, "I need Him. I'm coming to Him, Jesus, I give You my life".
That's your prayer, lift your hands high right now. All over the place, lift them up right over here. Praise God for you, right back over here, others, and he's saying, "Yes, Jesus". Right back up there, yes, I surrender Jesus, I need You. Others today, say, "Yes, I surrender, Jesus, I trust You with my life". Those of you online, just type it in the Comment section, "I'm trusting Jesus, I'm surrendering to Jesus". And wherever you're watching from, we're gonna pray and put our faith in Him today. Just pray aloud, pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive all of my sins. Jesus, save me, change me, heal me, make me brand-new. Fill me with Your Spirit, so I could know You, and I could serve You wholeheartedly. Living for You, and showing Your love, and trusting You in all that I do. My life is not my own. I give it all to You. Father, glorify Your Name. Glorify Your Name. Glorify Your Name. I give You my life, in Jesus' Name I pray.