How long are you willing to wait for something?
How long are you willing to wait for something? I for one start to question the value of coffee in my day when I see the drive through line at Dunkin’ wraps around the building. But that’s just me. That’s also just materialistically speaking, so let’s change the question - how long are you willing to wait for God to act in your life? Waiting for God to make His move may be the hardest task we ever face. He is not always quick to the draw, and in total honesty - we can often feel dissatisfied with His solution if it doesn’t meet our expectations. If you’ve ever felt like God has placed you on hold - you’re not alone. We’ve all hit a point of impatience, that point where we tell ourselves, “I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands.” However, it is in this moment that we should be instead handing our doubt over to God. Sometimes waiting is God’s plan for us. Sometimes we forget that He is capable of literally everything and anything. A great example of this is the story of Sarah in Genesis. Let’s learn from her example.
Sarah was the wife of Abraham. God appeared to Abraham when he was 99 years old and made a covenant with him, promising him that he would be the father of the Jewish nation, saying, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies” (Genesis 22:17). After many barren years, Sarah took things into her own hands, and convinced Abraham to sleep with her handmaiden, Hagar, so as to produce an heir. Note: this was an accepted practice at the time. Hagar became pregnant and bore a son named Ishmael. However, this was not the child God had promised. After Ishmael was born, three heavenly beings appeared to Abraham. In their visit, God repeated his promise to Abraham, saying that Sarah would bear him a son in her old age. Although Sarah was far beyond child-bearing years, she did conceive and delivered a son - they named him Isaac. Isaac was the father of Esau and Jacob. Jacob went on to father 12 sons who became the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. From Judah’s tribe came David, and from David’s family line, Jesus of Nazareth: the messiah.
Who was Sarah?
Let’s get back to Sarah. Sarah waited 90 years to have a baby. 90 years. Many of us have never waited 9 years for something, let alone 90. During this time Sarah gave up hope on God’s promise, and took it upon herself to fix the problem (enter Hagar). This is where Sarah went wrong - Sarah was looking at God’s promise to her from a limited, human perspective. However, the Lord is not limited to what typically happens. Our God is not limited to the laws of biology or physics - just as easily as he created those, he can transcend them. We believe in a miracle maker - through Him anything is possible. Sarah’s life reminds us that when we begin to feel doubtful or afraid, we need to remind ourselves that God is greater than our doubts. God even challenges Abraham on this point, saying,
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)
The answer? No.
God will answer all of our prayers, His timing just may not be perfect to us. This is why God asks us to be patient. As always, I am reminded of the classic verse from Jeremiah,
“I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11). God has a complete view of our journeys. This is something we will all struggle making peace with - it is our human, fallen nature to want to control, to drive our own lives. Sometimes our patience with this will run thin - we see this in Sarah’s story. Sarah begins to doubt the Lord will deliver on His promise. Feeling forgotten and probably a little desperate, she allows Hagar to have relations with her husband so that he may have a son. Where Sarah failed to trust, we can learn. God always delivers on His promises. We read in Exodus,
“The lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
The Bible is full of promises that God made us, and while sometimes we may feel as if He has lost sight or forgotten about us, He is there, keeping His promises. We will have to go through twists and turns (heartbreak, confusion, frustration, waiting, loss, etc.) to reach the spots God is bringing us to. Take some time today to reflect on a time when you thought you would never be happy again, a time when you thought you could never heal from what your heart was going through, compared to where you are now. God’s timing will not always be perfect, and his response will not always be instantaneous - but He has heard our prayers to Him. God always answers us, but as we pray in the Our Father, it is His will that is done, not ours. A great reminder of this can be found in scripture:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Like many of us, Sarah struggled with doubt and fear. “Is God even listening to me?” “Has God forgotten about me?” “Will God ever answer my prayers?” Yet, as we read in her story, God was faithful when she was faithless. As God knows your story, he knew Sarah’s all along. Sometimes waiting is God’s plan for us. Sometimes the waiting and the suffering is what makes our gifts from God all the more special. Just take a look at Sarah: she waited 90 years for a baby whose descendants brought Jesus into this world.