Waiting can be excruciating. Just ask Abraham. God made him a BIG promise, but it took 25 years to come to fruition. Now that is waiting! We’ve all experienced seasons of waiting, especially of recent. It has been six months since the pandemic started, and the wait for normalcy trudges on. Teachers everywhere long for the day they can see their students face-to-face and hug them without the fear of getting the virus. We all want to allow our students to collaborate with each other, and we look forward to the day we can engage with our colleagues without wearing a mask. We are all weary…tired of waiting.
We know this pandemic will not last forever. We know God is faithful to His promise to never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8). So what do we do in the meantime? How do we respond amidst the waiting? I want to take us back to Abraham. There is so much to learn from his “in the meantime” moments. Twenty-five years is a long time to wait. A great deal happened in the interim—some good and some not so good. I actually find this a bit encouraging. Abraham, like you and I, wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes; however, God still blessed him and called him the Father of many nations. Wouldn’t you just love to sit down and have a conversation with Abraham? Or Sarah? I wonder what advice they would give us. My guess is we would hear about God’s faithfulness despite their failures. Maybe their advice would go something like this.
· In the meantime, remember…faith, complete trust, and confidence in God is a daily exercise.
Abraham had such great faith. God called him to leave his home and everything he knew to journey to “a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12). God promised to make him a great nation and a blessing to others. The Bible says Abram (his name before God changed it) departed as instructed. It never mentions him questioning God. He just took his family and left. Abram demonstrated great faith…for a while anyway.
It wasn’t until fear entered the picture that things began to go awry. A famine entered the land. Instead of remaining where God had placed him, Abram’s fear drove him to Egypt to obtain food. Of course, the situation worsened as Abram’s fear resulted in a lie by declaring Sarah was his sister. He was certain her beauty would put a target on his head. His need for self-preservation resulted in him abandoning his wife and God’s promise.
Fear can cause us to be irrational…and often selfish. This type of fear—one that foregoes faith—is sin. I find this frightening. Abraham’s faith had been so strong, but the faith of his past was not enough. Trusting God completely is a daily choice. Our faith protects us in times of uncertainty. Times are uncertain right now, filled with fear for so many. Now, more than ever, hold onto your faith and the promises of God!
· In the meantime, remember…God is faithful even when we are not.
Abraham’s actions had severe ramifications for those around him. In fact, it put his life in danger, but God did not give up on him. God protected him and his family despite his lack of faith. This isn’t a license to be disobedient. We know God hates sin. We also know God forgives sin. Eventually, Abraham found his way back to obedience. As a result, his faith was strengthened, despite his personal failures along the way. God had made Abraham a promise, and God is faithful to always keep His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).
We can be our own worst enemy when our faith falters. We may think God is disappointed in us or can’t use us. Nothing is further from the truth. When we repent and return to obedience, God lets it go. We should do likewise (1 John 1:9). Abraham went on to see God’s promises fulfilled despite his failures.
· In the meantime, remember…don’t take matters into your own hands.
Abraham was not a one-mistake kind of guy. His faith faltered several times over the twenty-five years of waiting. I can certainly relate since patience is a virtue that often eludes me. For example, about ten years after Abraham picked up and left his home, he began to have doubts. God’s promise had not yet been fulfilled. How many times was Abraham tempted to think, “Did I hear God correctly? Am I imagining this? Did I believe in vain?” God knew Abraham need reassurance, so He repeated the promise with a few additional details.
Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Abraham believed, and his faith was strengthened. All was good, right? Wrong. Sarah and Abraham were old—almost 100! Surely God needed their help. While the plan to take Hagar as his wife was Sarah’s idea, Abraham agreed, and the debauchery ensued. Feel free to read the rest of the story in Genesis 15-16. Little good resulted from Abraham and Sarah’s decision to take matters into their own hands. I do think they believed God’s promises. They just didn’t trust his timing. Even though God affirmed His promise to Abraham, He didn’t change Abraham’s circumstances. Abraham was still without a son.
There is often a fine line we walk when waiting on God’s promises. What do we do? What do we wait on God to do? It can be hard to discern. Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, but I also think these words spoken to Abraham so many years ago are perfect for us today.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; Walk [habitually] before Me [with integrity, knowing that you are always in My presence], and be blameless and complete [in obedience to Me].
Let’s take a lesson from the life of Abraham and Sarah and when this pandemic is all over, we will, like Abraham, joyfully experience the fulfillment of God’s promises!
In the meantime, remember …
· God is the Almighty!
· Stay in His presence.
· Be obedient.