Of the many issues plaguing today’s world, the absence of delayed gratification is definitely a biggie. From instant messaging to instant potatoes, we don’t have to wait for much of anything. From the epidemic of obesity and to widespread indebtedness, many societal ills can be traced back to this simple but difficult issue. While many of us can appreciate the conveniences of modern society, today’s teens have never done without them.
For those growing up in this time-warp world of ours, the principle of sowing and reaping can be difficult to grasp. God’s Word (Galatians 6:7) warns us that we can easily be deceived. Why? There’s often a time lapse between sowing and reaping. You may work diligently and tirelessly for years before your hard work pays off, just like you may accrue debt for decades before the creditors catch up with you.
This kind of deception can be especially hard for today’s fast-paced kids to comprehend: If they don’t get something now, they’re over it, and they don’t care. Sexual promiscuity, poor educational planning, and avoiding necessary vehicle maintenance can all result from a lack of delayed gratification that comes when we’re deceived into thinking that we won’t reap what we sow.
While we certainly need to help them develop the discipline of delaying gratification on a practical level, their financial ruin or even sexual scars are at risk. Expectations of instantaneous responses can make us reticent to pray, and real-time newsfeeds can make age-old Scripture seem passé. Combine the timeliness of modern communication with the fact that audio-visual applications like Skype, Facetime, and streaming video of live events are now available to the average American, held easily in the palm of a hand.
All things considered, it’s easy to see why young people can find it difficult to connect with a God they can’t see, who apparently lacks their sense of urgency, and whose age-old words can seem irrelevant to our fast-paced world in which trends change so quickly that people intend an insult when they say “that was so last week.” There’s a key difference between something that’s outdated and something that’s timeless, just like there’s a distinction between the worthless and the priceless.
Our young people need a different perspective, one in keeping with reality: They need to grasp the concept of a transcendent God and transcendent Truth. In changing times, it’s all-the-more needful that our young people know they can rely on God (Psalm 62:2), His Word (Matthew 24:35), and His Son (Hebrews 13:8).
God’s Word tells us that His timing is different from ours: 2 Peter 3:8 tells us that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” As hard as it is for our finite minds to grasp, our God is not bound by time; in fact, He created time and will one day obliterate it, altogether (Rev. 10:5)! James 4:14 teaches that our lives are brief, and Isaiah 40:15 says that even great nations are insignificant, compared to our great God.