Hope in the Waiting
Have you ever wanted something, but it was out of reach? That despite your planning, trying, pushing, pulling, and networking, you still came up empty handed?
In Genesis 16, we see Abram’s wife, Sarai, had not had any children (Genesis 16:1). Despite God’s promise to Abram that his offspring would be more numerous than the stars, Sarai and Abram STILL had no children of their own. Because of this, Sarai devised a plan for Abram to sleep with her slave Hagar. Abram did as his wife requested, and Hagar became pregnant. This made Hagar feel like a queen (Abram’s queen at that), so she began mistreating Sarai. This didn’t sit well with Sarai, and with the blessing of her husband, she began mistreating Hagar. It sounds like an episode of the Maury Povich show to me. It was messy and ugly. Hagar decided to leave. When she did, she was met by an Angel of the Lord, who told her to return and promised her more offspring than she could count.
Can you relate to Sarai? I can. I knew I wanted children, but our journey getting to children wasn’t an easy one. We lost and lost again. We met with doctors and genetic teams and tried a number of measures that don’t need explained, and we still came up short. We found ourselves waiting.
Can you relate to Hagar? You’ve put yourself out there for a family member or friend, and instead of feeling helpful, you feel mistreated, abused, and unappreciated. You’ve chosen to flee too.
Maybe you feel a bit like both women. Maybe you feel like you’ve been a good and faithful servant, yet you’re starting down the line of a diagnosis with no hope of true healing? Maybe you’re waiting for the news that everything is going to be OK, but you know you’ll never get it. Maybe you’re battling something personally or in your marriage/relationship and you can’t talk about it. Maybe you’ve prayed and prayed, and yet you wait with dimming hope as each minute passes.
For as much as we can control, some things are just out of our grip. Can you relate? I can. Sarai understood it. Hagar understood it. Abram understood it. God understands it. In Proverbs 16:9 we see Scripture come to life through Sarai and maybe ourselves a little too. It says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” Sarai planned a path to give Abram offspring, but even so, it didn’t align with God’s plans for them. We plan for our way, yet we come up empty handed while what we want remains out of reach.
When we arrive to this place of desperation and longing, yet waiting, we can feel feelings of disappointment, bitterness, anger, sadness, or maybe we feel downright unworthy. BUT, because of Christ, we do not lose hope. “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Every second that we wait in obedience, in Holy anticipation, in Hope, in Love is a second that God is using to sanctify our hearts to make us more like Him. God uses our suffering. He uses our waiting. He uses our longing. He uses our loss. It all has purpose for His glory.
So, let me encourage you: whatever you’re waiting on, hold on. Do not lose hope. Job teaches us that God can do anything and no plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). So let's ask God for His plans for us, for our lives, for our waiting, and then wait. As we talked about last week, “With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
Friends, as we approach Christmas, please join me in praying for those who are hoping for more than what be given or bought by human hands, for those who are struggling with the thought of Christmas because of loss or death, and for those who have no hope left.
Here’s one of my favorite songs by Shane and Shane Thou you Slay Me featuring John Piper.
*I do not own the rights to this music. Just sharing because of its relevance to this topic.