How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? (Ps. 74:10–11)

THE PSALMIST WAS BEGGING GOD to defend the oppressed and to fight for His own honor. Interestingly, the psalmist did not question God’s ability to destroy the enemy; he questioned God’s timing.

The reality is that we cannot trust our own ability to distinguish life events as good or bad for us. To be sure, there are historical events that are inherently evil. But some things start out looking great and end up horribly, while other things appear terrible and work out to be blessings in the end. Gerald G. May shares in Dark Night of the Soul that he was diagnosed with cancer, but the experience brought him closer to God and loved ones. The chemo, which felt awful, brought him a complete cure. Later, he learned that the chemo may have led to heart disease, which left him waiting for a transplant. “At some point I gave up trying to decide what’s ultimately good or bad. . . . I don’t have to look for spiritual lessons in every trouble that comes along. There have been many spiritual lessons to be sure, but they’ve been given to me in the course of life; I haven’t had to figure out a single one” (pp. 2, 15).

May and the psalmist articulated a tension we all share. Why doesn’t God do something about the unfairness we see in our lives and in the world? And sitting in mysterious tension with this disappointment is the comfort that God is keeping His judgment and His power in check. As the psalmist put it, “Why do you hold back your right hand?” The psalmist painted a picture of a God who is patient with us and our inability to understand what is good and what is bad for us. It is a picture of a God who is waiting to set the world right again.

Be honest about tension you may feel between disappointment and confidence in God’s timing.

Andrea Summers is an ordained minister and has served on staff in her local church for five years. She is the director of Women’s Ministry for The Wesleyan Church.