Recently an insurance client and I were laughing about a mediation we attended together a few years ago. In addition to our insured's regular counsel, the insured had convinced us that they had to have the big local name. "He knows everybody in that part of the state." "He can talk to the plaintiffs' counsel and they will listen." So, he (to make the story easier, I will call him "Thomas" from here on out) attended the mediation with us.
Thomas arrived in the room and immediately pulled out the newspaper. If you have never attended a mediation, this really isn't all that surprising. There is a lot of down time while the mediator talks to the other side, etc. But usually the understood rules of courtesy have everyone who is going to be trapped in a room together all day at least attempt to engage in polite conversation for a while before the reading begins. Thomas, on the other hand, sat down at one end of the table and just started reading.
The negotiations went back and forth over the course of the day. We were millions of dollars apart and things were pretty contentious at times. Every now and again Thomas would look up and make a comment, then he'd go back to reading something. As I recall it, about half way through the day we asked Thomas to go and talk to plaintiffs' counsel, to bring some reality to the conversations. Thomas responded - "Thomas is a closer, you don't want to use Thomas now, you don't want to waste Thomas." And, he went back to reading. Towards the end of the day when it appeared all was breaking down, we asked again - "Thomas, can you see if you can do anything?" The response came, "Thomas knows his time and now is not Thomas' time."
Ultimately, the mediation broke down and we all left. Thomas never did anything. While the case did resolve through further negotiations, Thomas did not play an active role in those discussions. When my client and I were laughing about it recently, we wondered when it was going to be Thomas' time.
I was thinking about this incident again this morning when I was doing my devotional and reading about times in life where we cry out for God. Where are you? Help me! How much longer do things have to be like this? When are things going to get better? I think that there are times when everyone wants God to act quickly, to change things now - on our schedule. When He doesn't act quickly enough I know that I can get frustrated, become somewhat disillusioned. I know you have the power, if you really love me as much as the Bible tells me that you do, why won't you do something now?!!?
One of the passages that I read this morning was Psalm 27:14 - "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (NIV) To me this is a stunningly simple, beautiful, message. Wait for the Lord, He will come. There is a lot of comfort in those words.
There some similarities, and of course at least one enormous difference, to my story that started this. Like Thomas, God does not always answer the second we ask Him to. Sometimes it is not yet His time. He hears us, He knows our thoughts before we think them, and He feels our hurt and our pain and suffers along with us. But, He knows His time and that time is not necessarily our time. Thomas, however, effectively abandoned us - it was never Thomas' time. God never abandons us. Even in our darkest of hours, the lowest of our lows, God is there with us. "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." He will come.