“Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the Lord has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai” (Genesis 16:1-2).
Do you struggle with waiting for God to answer your prayers? Even heroes of faith endured this same challenge. Abram and Sarai were such servants who struggled with patiently waiting on God.
At age 75, Abram, later known as Abraham (Genesis 17:5), had left everything he had known (i.e. his country and his father’s house, Genesis 12:1) and by faith followed God to a land God promised him (Genesis 12:2-3). God told him He would make of him a great nation; yet, at this point in his life, Abram did not have even a single child. For years Abram follows God, but still has no children. One can hear the pain in Abram’s voice over being childless when he replies to God, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” (Genesis 15:2). Speaking to God, again he adds, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” (Genesis 15:3). It pained Abram and his wife deeply that they had no children.
In the midst of his expressing his pain to God, the Lord reassures Abram of the promise which He will fulfill: “And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be’ ” (Genesis 15:4-5). To his great credit, Abram once again responds in faith: “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
However, as time goes by Abram and Sarai continue to struggle with waiting for God to fulfill His promise to them for a child. Roughly 10 years after leaving his homeland, as she loses patience in waiting for the Lord, Sarai decides that, perhaps, God needs some help. As the opening verses above indicate, she encourages Abram to go into her handmaiden Hagar and bear her children through Hagar. Instead of waiting patiently on God, Abram heeds the voice Sarai (Genesis 16:1-2).
Immediately, their impatient plan to try to assist God creates all kinds of problems. Sarai and Hagar begin having problems with one another and Sarai banishes her from the house (Genesis 15:4-6). After Hagar initially leaves this home, the Angel of the Lord intervenes and Hagar returns (Genesis 15:7-13). At age 86, Abram becomes a father to a child, Ishmael, born to him apart from God’s plan for him and his wife Sarai (Genesis 15:15-16). Later, conflict would cause Ishmael and Hagar to ultimately have to leave Abram’s home (Genesis 21:9-14). A lot of innocent people, such as Hagar and Ishmael, got hurt because of the impatience of Abram and Sarai to wait on God.
Waiting on God to answer our prayers can be a great struggle, especially in a day and age where so many expect instant gratification. However, for true spiritual growth and maturity to occur we must develop patience. James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). We have to let patience have its perfect work by learning to wait on God. Today, as my faith is tested, I will wait patiently on God!
“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).