When we encounter adversity or struggle, all we can think about is, when will it end? And the longer it persists, the more we let it take centre-stage, often overlooking all that is still good in our life. We hate waiting and refuse to consider there may be a deeper meaning behind the delay. We even lose patience with God, demanding He hurry up and resolve the situation, whilst simultaneously questioning why He let it happen in the first place. Yet, despite the intensity of our prayers, change takes time and there’s a reason why God has us wait.
Having recently emerged from a difficult period, I was guilty of all the above. At times, the struggle was reminiscent of Pi’s gargantuan battle with a Bengal tiger in The Life of Pi, and just like Pi, I refused to acquiesce to my fate. However, as the weeks melted into months, my optimism faded and the fight became debilitating and draining. As time continued its silent march, my perspective, expectations and aspirations fell like dominoes, each toppling the other. I began to seriously reflect on my life, candidly acknowledging a lack of fulfilment that I’d carried for years. I reconsidered my future, re-evaluated my path and made decisions which were once unthinkable. None of this happened overnight. Every step was incremental and organic. This meant that when a breakthrough eventually arrived, I was primed to recognise it and act on it.
My experience reminded me of the story of Jonah, which is mentioned in both the Bible and Koran. Jonah, a minor Prophet, was asked by God to go to Nineveh to prophesise. However, Jonah stubbornly ran away to sea, where he was thrown overboard by sailors and saved from drowning by being swallowed by a whale. During his time in the belly of the whale (three days and three nights), Jonah prayed for God’s help and promised to make good on God’s initial request. Once the whale spat out Jonah onto dry land, Jonah fulfilled God’s mission.
The period Jonah spent in the belly of the whale symbolises a period of darkness and reflection. Only after Jonah made a decision to change, did his circumstances change. It was the same for me. At first, I hoped the situation would resolve itself without my intervention. But, the passage of time transformed my thinking and gave me the courage, maturity and wisdom, to make decisions I would not have otherwise made. Time wasn’t a hindrance keeping joy at bay, but a blessing, illuminating the truth about unfolding events. It was time, which ensured that once my decision was made, it was authentic and enduring.
God uses time as a catalyst to propel us forward. A seed doesn’t transform into a flower overnight. A good wine or cheese need time to mature. We are no different. Don’t be tempted to race through trials and tribulations. See them as companions on the journey of life, and let them transform you from who you are today, to who you will one day be.