There once was a man named Abram. God hand picked him out of a bunch of nobodies when he was seventy five years old, and told him to set out away from family on a journey without a plan and destination and promised to show him the way and bless him with children, a lot of land, a great reputation and Spiritual protection. Abram semi-obeyed and took his nephew Lot along for the ride. As both Abram and Lot grew in wealth and numbers, they got to the point that the land could not sustain them both, thus they parted ways. After Lot left, God revisited Abram and renewed His promise of blessing and revealed the land which would belong to Abram and his descendants.
Ten years into their journey, Abram and his wife Sarai still had no children. God had promised a few times that they would have a natural-born child, but with Abram now at 85 years and Sarai at 75, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Sarai gave her maid to Abram as a wife, to have a child. It sounded like a good idea up front, but once the child was conceived, Sarai was bitter and treated her maid harshly. The child was born and received a blessing from God, but was still not the child God had promised.
Fourteen years later, God again appeared to Abram and promised once again a child, this time stating that the baby would be born one year from the appearance. Both Abram and Sarai laughed when they heard the promise, as Abram was now ninety-nine and Sarai eight-nine. They were beyond child-bearing years and had clearly given up on trusting the promise of God.
However, by the power of Almighty God, the child was born the following year. Twenty-five years after the promise was initially given.
Twenty five years.
What is the longest you have waited for something? How quickly does your patience wear out? Do you ever try to take matters into your own hands?
This story of Abram and Sarai is helpful in many ways. Firstly, it reminds us that the onus is squarely on God to make His plans come to fruition. If He said it, He will do it. He does not always tell us His time frame or big picture plan in how all of the pieces will work out, but He is good to His word. We can trust Him.
Secondly, God chose Abram because of His own pleasure, not because of anything Abram had done. Not only this, but God was faithful to His promise even when Abram and Sarai tried to fulfill the promise their own way.
Thirdly, Abram believed God every time they spoke. In fact, it is noted that Abram’s righteousness was because of the fact that he believed God:
“Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”
– Gen 15.6
Abram was righteous because of his faith. He was counted righteous for having faith, even though he started out his journey in disobedience – taking his nephew with his family along (Gen 12.4). He was counted righteous for having faith, even though he and his wife gave up on the promise. He was counted righteous for having faith, even though they tried to fulfill the promise themselves (Gen 16). He was counted righteous for having faith, even though He blamed God for having no children (Gen 15.2-3) and He laughed at God (Gen 17.17).
Have you ever grown weary in the waiting? Have you ever doubted God’s promise? Tried to fulfill it by your own efforts? Grown so cynical that you laughed at the promise? Or blamed God for your circumstances? It is indeed sin to disrespect the God of the universe in these ways. But praise God that it does not disqualify us from receiving the promises He has made. His glory and honor exist completely outside of our actions, and He will bring us to faith and righteousness by His timing and plan.
“…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
– Phil 2.13
If you are in a season of waiting, if you are looking forward to the promises God has given us through the Scripture, then let us renew again our hearts. Let us not despair for our failings of Spirit along the way, God will forgive us if we confess those sins, and our righteousness is not lost as long as we return to faith. Sometimes things seem slow in their fulfillment to our eyes, but God is using that time for His purpose and His glory. Let us remain in Him, let us trust Him, let us persevere by the strength He provides, and the day of fulfillment will be all the more sweeter for the wait. Even if it is twenty five years.