January 29, 2018
“It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old.” Hebrews 11:11a (NLT)
Patience. Endurance. Pause. Tarry. All synonyms for one of my least favorite words in the Bible: wait.
Waiting is not one of my top strengths. I’m more of a hurry-up and let’s-get-this-thing-going type of girl. Today I introduce you to my friend Sarah (formerly named Sarai), who has a lot in common with me … because neither of us likes to wait.
Her story is like yours and mine. She had a dream, a desire waiting to be fulfilled. Sarah longed be a mother. The details of her infertility are mostly private, yet God published one verse concerning the matter. “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children” (Genesis 16:1a, NIV).
Sarah is caught in a dilemma here. She wants a child but is unable to get pregnant. Feeling desperate and believing she’s reached an impasse, Sarah takes matters into her own hands.
Sarah convinces Abram to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. (Genesis 16:2) Her plan was “successful,” as Abram became a father. Sarah’s interference enlightens us to the dangers of waiting on God, rather than waiting with God.
If you’re not familiar with Sarah’s story, there’s a serious plot twist taking place right after Hagar gives birth to a son, Ishmael. Sure, Abram (later Abraham) became a father, but God wanted to bless an entire nation through Sarah. So he made her wait before their son Isaac (father of Israel) eventually came along … five more chapters in the Bible, and 14 more years in real life!
Waiting on God gives way to actions based on human reasoning while waiting with God sees the pause as time to experience God. Sarah was living in the pain and disappointment of an unfulfilled dream. She examined her situation, and rather than trusting God’s timing and experiencing His presence during the pause, she trusted her own logic and understanding.
I’m more like Sarah than I care to admit.
In my mind I know truths like: God’s timing is best. God is trustworthy, and His plan is worth waiting for. But my impulsivity and impatience get the best of me. I reason, I’ve been waiting long enough. My idea is good and God-honoring. He’s busy helping others, so I will handle this situation. Foolishly leaning on my own understanding causes me to miss the incredible opportunity of seeing God work things out for my good and His glory. When we wait with God, we enjoy the immeasurable peace that comes when we rest in the hope of His perfect plan.
Is there any hope for those who take matters into their own hands? Or does God write us off as a lost cause? Thankfully, there’s always hope with God.
Sarah’s decision wasn’t without consequences (see Genesis 16:1-16 and Genesis 21:8-21), but God remained faithful in fulfilling her dream with the child of promise, Isaac (Genesis 18:1-15 and Genesis 21:1-7). This brings us to the amazing hope of our key verse:
“It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old” (Hebrews 11:11).
Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as the “Hall of Faith,” and Sarah’s name is listed among the faithful! Isn’t this incredible? Impatient people aren’t cast aside in the family of God. (Whew. I’m thankful for this truth!) Sarah proved that meddling can mess up God’s best plan, but our key verse shows how God redeems our interruptions and can turn our mess-ups into a message.
Maybe your dream is like Sarah’s, to be a momma. Perhaps you want to own a home, be married, or see your loved ones saved. Your dream isn’t too big for God. Trust Him with your deepest desire. Wait with Him and experience God’s presence. Participate with Him through obedience. Waiting withHim is worth it. His plans are the best — more than anything we can ask or imagine.
Lord, I’m sorry for interfering with the work You’re trying to accomplish in my life. Pauses are challenging. I want to experience You as I wait for Your best plans. Thank You for being a redeeming God who takes my mess-ups and makes a message. Help me lean on You rather than my own understanding. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 11:1, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (NLT)
When waiting on God takes longer than expected, we become impatient and act on what we understand. If you want to learn from others who’ve waited well and those who have been impulsive, consider Wendy Pope’s new DVD curriculum, Wait and See: A Six-Week Study to Waiting Well. Wendy teaches through the lives of six people in the Bible who struggled with waiting. The study is perfect for small groups and is closed-captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing. Click here for more information.
Stop by Wendy’s blog for a chance to win a copy of the DVD curriculum kit.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Our greatest pleasure is experiencing the perfection of God’s plan. Even though we don’t know the when or how, we can trust in the Who. Impatience makes the waiting longer. How have you acted impulsively while waiting on God?
© 2018 by Wendy Pope. All rights reserved.
Originally published Monday, 29 January 2018.