Have you, like Sarah of Old Testament, been waiting?
Maybe you’re waiting for COVID to take a hint and vanish. (Who isn’t?) Perhaps you’ve clutched a verse, waiting for God to manifest His personal promise. But your bare arms still long for a spouse. Your barren womb is aching for a baby.
I feel you. My heart has been cradling a book idea that has cost hundreds of hours of writing, rewriting, conference going, and networking.
And yet —
The publishing industry, polite but persistent, insists my platform needs supersizing first.
My mind understands what they mean — you need to build a larger following who will buy your book — but my heart hears it as just wait.
Sarah suffered a similar plight. Abraham’s faithful wife followed him as he uprooted their family to obey God. By the time we hit Genesis 16:3, she’d resided in a foreign land for a full decade, sans the heir God had promised.
Ten years isn’t just a long time — it also symbolizes completion. I get how this momentous mark prompted Sarah to switch from tarrying to plotting. “If you’ll sleep with Hagar the maid, we’ll finally have our baby, babe,” she coaxed Abraham, according to my very loose translation of the verse above.
Unfortunately, short-circuiting waiting spawns unnecessary heartaches. Sarah’s scheme eventually transformed Hagar into the world’s first single mother (Genesis 21:1-21). Moreover, when Sarah aborted her waiting, she also catalyzed the birth of two people groups— Jews and Arabs — whose rigid rift reaches even to our day.
Perhaps learning to wait is in order. But since nobody enjoys the process, here are five nuggets to lessen the pain.
1. Waiting’s unique function
There are crucial lessons we can’t embody any other way except by living through — instead of bypassing — waiting. Among other things, having to wait on God exposes how much faith we place in Him. How? By measuring the length of time we’re willing to earmark as our waiting period. Is there a tipping point that can lure us to squash it prematurely? Like we discovered, Sarah maxed out at 10 years.
I can’t judge her. My insides shudder at having to wait until 2031 before my book greets the world.
What about you? Will the passage of time convince you to quit believing that God is ushering a bright future your way?
2. Wisely waiting
Rather than stare at the clock, pray. Instead of fretting about what ifs, pray. When tempted to ruminate, guess what? Pray. In the Classic Amplified translation, James 5:16 promises how prayer unleashes tremendous power. The same promise applies to 21st century prayers because this verse never expires.
Pray for what?
That the outcome that pleases God will materialize in every circumstance we care about. According to 1 John 5:14-15, God guarantees a yes for this type of prayers. So, rather than grumble, let’s saturate our waiting with life-defining petitions.
Pray for God’s grace to assist as we wait.
The longer we wait, the more prayers we can utter — which means the better off we’ll be.
3. Winning against time
When it comes to time, God isn’t just perfect — He’s a perfectionist. He executes His decisions with flawless precision at the exact time. For instance, He planned Jesus’ birth to transpire in the “fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4-5, NKJV). As a minister, Jesus delayed his arrival at the Feast of Tabernacles by a few days to mark the right time (John 7: 1-10).
Unlike God, we operate under time’s constraints. But don’t let it bully you. Just because time marches on doesn’t mean we need to shift our position. Let’s imitate our Father (Ephesians 5:1) and resolve to be unmoved by time — believing God’s precious promises will come through, regardless of how long it takes.
4. Who else cares?
Waiting rankles partly because of fear that our forlorn state might slip God’s mind. That’s why I treasure Hebrews 6:10 (NKJV). Savor how it starts: “God is not unjust to forget.” Our God remembers. He knows how long we’ve puttered around in the predicament we’re in. Better yet, He sits with us in the off-putting here-and-now.
The new we’ve been dreaming of may be days or even hours away, but don’t dismiss the current season because it reeks of delays. Rest in the promise of Isaiah 60:22 (NIV) instead, “I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.” Complete this waiting period — and watch God move rapidly.
5. Why delays happen
I pondered this question and when the insight arrived, its simplicity surprised me.
God often takes a long time because He often uses people.
Well, people, um, have issues. We procrastinate. We waffle on whether it was truly God’s voice we heard. Even when we establish that yes, the Lord wants us to buy a week’s worth of groceries for the widow down the street, we rationalize our obedience away.
We may not be waiting because God frowns at our requests, but because those He taps to deliver the goods aren’t budging.
I can’t prophesy when a publishing house will release my book. But I vow to continue writing, teaching, and trusting God until my hands can caress its dust jacket.
Even if it means tolerating more waiting.
Whatever you’re waiting for, may I suggest sticking with it until the end?
“Those who wait for Me shall not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 49:23, ESV).