Have you ever felt like God is too slow to respond to your prayers? Or perhaps you feel that He’s not listening to your requests because no matter how many times you pray, nothing seems to happen?
Well if you haven’t felt like that, good for you. But I have felt like that before, and more than once. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one because there are a few stories in the Bible mentioning this experience.
One such story is the story of Abraham and Sarah.
At seventy-five years of age, Abram was promised that God would make of him ‘a great nation’ (Genesis 12:2). Initially, Abram followed God’s words with faith by moving out to whatever place God wanted him to go to, even though God’s promise was biologically impossible to fulfil. Ten years later, Abram and his wife, Sarai, finally lose hope in God’s promise and decided to take matters into their own hands. Abram and Sarai were to have a kid through Sarai’s Egyptian servant, Hagar. Immediately, Hagar’s contempt for Sarai (Genesis 16:5) bites sharply back at the couple when she conceived.
Fourteen years after the birth of Ishmael (Hagar’s son), God changes both Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah respectively (Genesis 17:5 and 15), and this time God clearly stated that Abraham would have a son through Sarah. True enough, Isaac was born a year later, when Abraham was a hundred years old.
From their story, we can learn so many things about waiting for God.
1. When God promises you something, He intends to keep it
He may not have appeared to you personally to tell you that He will make of you ‘a great nation’, but He did promise all of us that to everyone who loves Him, all things will work out for good when you are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). All things will work out for good! That is His promise to all of us who love Him. What can be better than that?
2. Taking things into your own hands wouldn’t work
The birth of Ishmael through Hagar created only problems for Abraham and Sarah. Firstly, Hagar’s contempt of Sarah brought Sarah grief. Afterwards, Sarah’s refusal to allow any inheritance to go to Ishmael causing Abraham grief. All this could have been avoided if the couple would just patiently wait on God’s plan to work.
3. Even when you make mistakes, God not only gives you second chances, but He uses your mistakes as part of His amazing plan
God easily solved Abraham’s grief at having to cast out Ishmael with a simple promise that He, the almighty Father, will look after the boy. How a poor woman and a little boy survived the wilderness will ever be a mystery to us – except we know that they probably survived simply because God is looking after them. Even though Abraham and Sarah had not patiently waited for God, He still gifted them a son (Isaac) just as He promised, despite their mistake.
4. God runs on a different time calculation as us – but He always keeps His promises in the end
Abraham waited twenty-four years before God’s plan was carried out. Not only that; the birth of Isaac clearly defied any biological explanation since the couple was already so old.
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
Neither time nor logic applies to God. When He says it’ll happen, it’d surely happen. All we have to do is hold on to our faith and patiently wait for Him. After all, patience is a virtue.