Who Controls the Timeline?
By Pastor Aaron Adame
In a presentation given by Governor Kate Brown on May 7, 2020 regarding the reopening of Oregon, her opening slide contained a quote (in very large font) from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is quoted saying the following: “You don’t make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline.”
Certainly, this inclusion of such a statement at the beginning of her presentation was to set the precedent early for a question that was inevitable to come later—the question everyone is asking: “How long will this isolation and quarantine last? How long until we have answers and clarity for what is happening? When can life get back to some semblance of normal?” People want a timeline!
And though this quote is meant to dodge the gnawing question—forcing people to ask a virus when it’s ready to stop controlling our lives—there is some truth to it. We can’t control a virus; therefore, we can’t control a timeline.
Now, my point in bringing this up is not to argue with the quote directly, but to redirect the conversation to a more spiritual end. To think about our response to the reality that there are many things out of our control, including timelines for the struggles and hardships we go through, including government and media response to COVID-19. You see, no matter what hardship we are in (and I am speaking to believers here), we are always looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. When walking through the proverbial “valley of the shadow of death,” we want to sprint to the high plains as fast as possible. After all, no one likes to go through hardship and trials.
But this quote got me thinking, when it comes to trials that God allows in our lives for our spiritual growth and character development, we need to remember that we don’t set the timeline—God does. Just like we don’t get to choose the test itself, God does that too.
When we go through trials, something we need to ask ourselves is this: Am I learning all that I can about God and myself, or am I just wanting this to be over? What areas of myself have I seen weakness in and need to be strengthened through this? What sin(s) have been exposed in my heart that only the refining fire of God’s loving trials can reveal? Do I want to grow, or do I just want to be comfortable? Have I considered others over myself through our collective hardship?
As I ponder these questions in my own heart, I can see how God has been working to increase my patience and perseverance of faith. Yet, how can we grow in patience and perseverance—things we pray God would do in us—if we don’t have an opportunity to exercise it?
Interestingly, in this situation with COVID-19, we are all suffering through it together. Like a football team during hell week before the season starts, we are all forced to work on this as a body of believers as we share in the same struggle under the guidance of a loving heavenly Father, not a brutal coach!
But the main idea I want us to consider is the timeline. When it comes to trials, unfortunately, we don’t get to set the timeline. We aren’t asked how long WE WANT the struggle to last. Instead, we are given three hopeful promises: 1) God is with us; 2) His grace is sufficient to sustain us; and 3) His plan in the end is for our good, not our harm—to conform us into the image of Christ. These three promises are everywhere throughout the pages of Scripture but summarized well by Paul in Romans 8.
So, brother, sister, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and attempt to press God to change His timeline. Ask him to reveal what He wants to teach you. Consider the struggles and sufferings of others above your own.
Seek His will—accept His timeline—in this present time.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18 ESV)
Yet we pray as Jesus did, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13 ESV).