Do you ever feel like God is taking His sweet time in answering your prayers or meeting your needs? Maybe it's a relationship, a job, health, finances or some other equally troubling circumstance. You know that God sees what's going on, and you understand that He cares for you. So why does it take Him so long to act? Surely, the God who spoke the world into existence could easily speak our problems out of existence, but He chooses not to work that way. All it would take is a single word or possibly even a thought, yet even in the circumstances where we see God moving, it seems like the process is excruciatingly slow. Why would a loving God make us wait for an outcome when He could easily make things right immediately? I believe we find the answer to that in Exodus 23.
I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land. - Exodus 23:29-30
In this passage, God is making a promise to the children of Israel that He will drive out the inhabitants of Canaan so that Israel can possess the land. But notice what He says in verse 29: He makes it clear that even though He could, He was not going to drive out all the nations in a single year; He was going to do it little by little. And if we look carefully, we'll identify his reasoning.
First off, God needed the Israelites to understand that He could see the consequences of a rushed takeover. The land would suffer, and instead of walking into a paradise, the children of Israel would enter a land unsuitable for survival. The slow process of driving out the nations was not a punishment but rather a provision. God knew what Israel did not, and acting with that knowledge, He decided on a course of action that was best for His people. Likewise, God sees our future and the consequences of rushed actions. Knowing what lies ahead, He gives us what we need when we need it in order to bring about the best outcome.
Secondly, if you will look at verse 30, God told the children that He was waiting until they had increased. It's very possible that God was speaking about increasing in number, but I think it went further than that. Sometimes, God takes us the long way around because it is in the process that we grow. If God were to instantly give us the things for which we've been praying, how would our lives change? Would we become closer to Him? Would we become more spiritual? How would our relationship to others be influenced? And, to be blunt, how long would it take before we were asking God for more? God knows and understands that it's not enough to give us what we want, but it's imperative that we grow along the way. And as much as we hate to admit it, growth takes time.
Too often, we are so focused on the destination that we lose sight of what God is trying to teach us in the journey. His delays are not a punishment or means of instigating frustration. He is truly doing what's best for us whether we realize it or not. So as you embark on your journey, I urge you to remember that God is working all things for your good, and if it's taking longer than you expected, that's okay because God has something good in store for you. Be open to His working in your life and accept the growth He wants to see in you. And as difficult as it may seem at times, try your best to enjoy the journey. God is working. . . little by little.