Jesus said, “You may go. Your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour.” Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and all his household believed. John 4: 50 – 53
Scripture tells us that with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (II Peter 3: 8), so God is clearly not bound by time. But for us mortals timing can make a big difference. In the case of the royal officer whose son was healed long-distance, the perfect timing of the healing caused him and his whole household to believe.
Although people have tried to explain away answered prayer and many of the “miracles” in the Bible in terms of natural causes, what can’t be explained is why these natural occurrences take place at exactly the right time. This is true not only for miracles in the lives of individuals, but for those that take place on a much grander scale. For example, contrary to the old Hollywood portrayal of the Red Sea opening up in a matter of moments, the book of Exodus says a strong east wind blew all night (Exodus 14: 21), and by morning the waters had receded to where the Israelites could cross. This kind of phenomenon was not unheard of in that region, but even so, we shouldn’t write it off as just a natural occurrence with no divine participation. Why did the east wind pick up at just the right time to help the fleeing nation? And why did the wind cease just in time for the waters to flow back and drown entire the Egyptian army, but not a single Israelite? As in the case of the royal officer’s son, the timing and its results erased any doubts that might have existed. I can relate. I personally have had numerous similar experiences, on a smaller scale.
I met a young man named Richard when I was making my volunteer rounds at the local hospital. Richard had suffered from insomnia for some time, and now he was hospitalized for addiction to sleeping pills. He was having a miserable time, sometimes being awake for days at a time.
One night I was wide awake at 3:00 A. M. and unable to get back to sleep. For me, the feeling that I was “wasting time” was a real pet peeve. In my frustration, I thought, “This must be what Richard feels like.” It occurred to me that I should be praying for him, and I spent some time asking the Lord to help him sleep. I did some Bible reading, prayed for Richard some more, and finally got back to sleep about 6:00.
After a couple more hours’ sleep and breakfast, I went back to the hospital. When I saw Richard, I asked him how his night had been. He smiled brightly and said, “Hey, I got three hours’ sleep!” … I had to ask.
“When was that?” You can probably guess the answer. Coincidence? Perhaps, but you’ll never convince me of that.
Perhaps someday every miracle in the Bible (and every answered prayer) can be explained in terms of natural causes. The skeptics will chalk up the timing to “coincidence.” But how many “coincidences” can one accept before concluding that “something is going on here…”?
God can do anything He chooses to do, any time He chooses to do it. But He is gracious enough to use the timing of things to give us hints that our prayers do make a difference, and that behind these “coincidences” there is a God who knows exactly what He’s doing.
Prayer: Father, we know all things are in Your hands, and You are sovereign. We don’t understand why You tell us to pray, but thank You for allowing us to partner with You in Your great plan. Thank You for revealing Yourself in what You do, and also in Your perfect timing. Help us to trust in Your ways, Your timing, and Your great love for us, in Jesus’ name. Amen