I have been thinking a lot about timing the past few days (months, really). We always say “All in God’s timing” and “God’s timing is perfect” but I feel like we use the platitudes to placate doubt and not because we always believe them.
I was reading the story of Hannah a few weeks ago. For years, she prayed for a son. Her husband, Elkanah, had another wife who had kids, and Hannah always felt like not enough. Elkanah loved her so much, he would give her extra portions, and tried to take care of her. But Hannah really, really desired a son. Finally one year while they were worshipping at Shiloh, Hannah was in the sanctuary, weeping and praying. She vowed to God that if he gave her a son, she would set him apart for God’s service. Somehow this was the year that Eli, the priest, heard her crying and praying, and though he initially accused her of being drunk, once he heard her story, he told her to go in peace and asked that God would give her what she asked of him.
Hannah got pregnant and had Samuel, and when the time came, she committed him to the Lord.
You’ve probably heard that story before. I certainly had. What I never quite pieced together was the timing of it all. Hannah wanted a baby for years and years. And God knew it. He was well aware of her desires and he was not ignoring her. But God knew who He wanted Samuel to be. He knew the role He was preparing for Samuel, and He knew Samuel’s life had to overlap Eli’s, and Eli’s sons, and Saul’s, and David’s. If Samuel had been born earlier, he would not have been born at the time God needed him to do all the things he would do, like becoming a true prophet of the Lord, hearing his voice and speaking out what God was saying, first to Eli, then to the people of Israel about cleaning house and restoring what God had given them, then anointing Saul as Israel’s first king. Samuel eventually anointed David as the next king of Israel, as was the Word of the Lord.
Samuel’s life had to overlap in such a way that he was there to do all the things God asked him to do. To be the last judge of Israel and to anoint the first and second kings.
And then I think about what God promised David, about the house and the kingdom and the throne. About Jesus foreshadowed way back then, and the timing through which God made that true. About Tamar and Rahab and Ruth and Bathsheba. How each life had to overlap just so, connect just so, to bring forth the promises of God, in his timing.
He knows what He’s doing, and He’s been reminding me of all the ways His timing is at work in my life too.