[This article was taken from our book Don’t Blame God! A Biblical Answer to the Problem of Evil, Sin, and Suffering.]
Another section in the Church Epistles shows Paul’s tenacity and perseverance in prayer and action. Again Satan hindered him, but Paul’s persistence did result in his eventually getting to Rome.
(8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
(9) God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you
(10) In my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
(11) I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong —
(12) That is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
(13) I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
(14) I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.
(15) That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
One thing we see in the above verses is that timing is often a critical factor in our accomplishing the will of God. Because of the configuration of spiritual forces that are beyond our perception, it is not always possible for us to “waltz along” on our mission from God. Sometimes we have to crawl through heavy artillery fire, and sometimes we must even stay in our foxhole for a while. The record in John 11 of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead comes to mind.
Yet when he [Jesus] heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
Why didn’t Jesus go immediately? We do not know, because God’s Word does not say, but certainly there was a reason. John 7:1-14 is also a most pertinent record, showing both the spiritual battle and Jesus’ concern for the right timing in his actions.
His brothers, who at that point did not believe in him, urged Jesus to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles and “show ‘em his stuff.” Note Jesus’ reply to them:
John 7:6-10, 14
(6) Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.
(7) The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.
(8) You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.”
(9) Having said this, he stayed in Galilee.
(10) However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.
(14) Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.