How God Sees Time

The second reading on the second Sunday of Advent was from the second letter of Peter.  The reading began:

“Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.”  (2 Peter 3:8)

There is great comfort in realizing this cosmic perspective.  As Advent teaches us how to wait, it’s good to know that part of why waiting seems so difficult is because God’s perspective of time is very different from our own.

How is that comforting?  Three ways.  First, it reminds me that what I might think of as needing to be accomplished urgently and immediately may not be on the same schedule that God has.   In an earlier post, I mentioned that folks involved in LGBT ministry and advocacy can instinctively resonate with the Psalmist’s cry, “How long, O God?”  The line from Peter makes me remember that God’s time is different from my own.

Knowing that God has a different perspective on time is comforting in another way.  When I reflect on how long it takes me to work through correcting imperfections in my life, when I think of how long it some times takes me to forgive someone, when I think of how long it can take to muster up the courage to do the right thing–at all these times, and, sadly, at many more times, too, I am glad that God’s view of time is somewhat longer than my own.

Finally, to know that “one day is like a thousand years” helps me to remember that everything that I or anyone else might do, no matter how small,  is important. If in God’s eyes a day is thousand years long, that tells me that even the small acts that I do can have an effect far into the future, most likely in ways that I can’t imagine.

Does this line from Scripture resonate with you?  How does your understanding of time help or hinder your ministry or your life?

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

1 reply
  1. Matthew Myers
    Matthew Myers says:

    Your post reminds me of a talk given by Fr. Daniel Berrigan on working for justice. He said:

    “You have no right to tie yourself in knots because you want to know the outcome of what you are doing. Don’t, no, no. Let it go. Let it go into history. Let it go into Christ. Let it go into generations. Let it go into the children. Play it and pray it well… We may never see the good outcome of the good we do. Do it anyway. Concentrate on the goodness of the work you’re doing. The outcome will take care of itself. The outcome is no concern of yours.”

    When we work for justice, we are doing God’s work. At some point, I must be humble enough to say that while I may give years of my life to this work of justice, it is ultimately not mine to finish. Those who come after me will continue this work and God will see it done in the fullness of time. This is how I deal with frustration in lgbt ministry — to concentrate on the goodness of what I do, try my very best to witness to justice now, and know that in God’s time — in the long view — God will bring this work to fruition.


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