Do you like waiting around? I don’t! I hate waiting! My family knows I do not sit around doing nothing well at all. They say I either go like crazy or sleep. True. Yet, God works in seasons or cycles. And some seasons or cycles involve waiting. Abraham’s experience raises some questions. What is God’s purpose for us in waiting? How do we wait? What does an attitude of faith look like in waiting?
God’s purpose for us in waiting
Abraham certainly experienced discouragement and some lapses in faith during the 24 years he waited for Isaac to be born.
Even so, he learned some things about God and living expectantly for what God said. He fought kings and learned to war, drive out the enemy and recover the losses. (Genesis 14) He experienced intercession successfully. (Genesis 19) He learned to trust God with what seemed crazy or impossible, both when God told him to leave everything and later when God asked him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. (Genesis 12 and 22)
At one point, God also gave him a new identity by changing his name. He then had to wait in that new name.
We learn that, simply because we have been given a promise, does not mean that it is automatically given. We must go after it.
God’s purpose in the waiting for us, as with Abraham, involves teaching us more about who He really is and what He really has for us. We were created uniquely for a purpose and God will help us fulfill it.
How do we wait?
How did Abraham stay focused as he waited 24 years? For more details, see the post, Are You Waiting on a Promise, at https://www.carolboggess.com/2021/03/06/are-you-waiting-on-a-promise/.
Abraham used specific tangible objects as reminders. A tamarisk tree, a knife and a cave. Last week I talked about how to use something like that in our own lives.
But God also gave him some tangible reminders. Dust and stars.
15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” Genesis 13:15-17 (NIV) 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5 (NIV)
Every time Abraham went outside and looked up at the heavens, he saw stars. Every time he washed the dust from his feet or walked through the territory at all, he noticed dust. Stars and dust impossible to count. Trying to get his head around just how many descendants he would have. Paul said God does beyond our wildest imagination. (Ephesians 3:20) I doubt Abraham realized how many of his descendants would eventually cross the Red Sea on their way from Egypt to that land, but scholars estimate near 2.4 million! From a 99 year old man who dared to believe God.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. Genesis 12:8 (NIV)
Abraham also built altars around the territory on several occasions. The altars stood as testimonies or reminders, declaring publicly that God had said or done something. He called on the name of the LORD, Yahweh. Yahweh is the name that refers to God envisioning the future He has for us and giving us the strategies that bring it to pass.
What does an attitude of faith look like in waiting?
Abraham and Sarah both had to face facts; in the natural they were too old to have a baby. But God does things super-naturally. They were fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised. They had learned about Yahweh in the waiting.
19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4:19-21 (NIV)
They strengthened their faith by giving glory to God. Praise is a powerful weapon. In giving glory to God, we are agreeing with what God said.
I love the contrast between weak faith, or impotent faith and what Mary said as she praised God. Luke 1:37 literally means that no living word of God is impotent. We can keep our faith from being impotent by rehearsing the words God has spoken as a promise that is never impotent.
34 ….. In their weakness their faith imparted power to make them strong! Faith sparked courage within them and they became mighty warriors in battle, pulling armies from another realm into battle array. Hebrews 11:34 (PassionNTPsa)
Hebrews 11:34 speaks of others who sustained faith, even when they didn’t fully see what was promised. Even in weaknesses. As we read the list in verses 32-33, we see people who didn’t start out strong or even balked at what they were asked to do, as Barak was in Judges 4. Nevertheless, he went. And the LORD confused and terrified the enemy. Judges 5:21 suggests He even used a flood. Barak doesn’t get credit for the victory, but he did get a mention in the Hall of Faith! Why do flawed people who make mistakes get such honor? Because they grow their faith and act on what God said.
How can we sustain our faith in the waiting?
18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
Fixing our eyes on what is unseen also means not fixing them on what is unseen. On what we haven’t received yet, even though we wait. “Fixing” is the word “skopeo.” We get our word “scope” from it. Imagine looking through a rifle scope. All you see is the target in the crosshairs. Everything else is blocked from your view and consideration. We fix our eyes so all we visualize is the fulfillment of what God said will happen.
What are some ways I’ve found helpful?
Rehearsing the promises so I grow strong in faith by speaking them aloud frequently. Faith comes or grows as we hear God’s word by speaking it ourselves. (Romans 10:17)
Making a picture collage that represents the promise fulfilled and putting it where I see if often.
Reminding myself God delights in me helps me sustain confidence in His love for me and that He does not desire to withhold good from me, that He is for me and on my side.
What else do you see in Abraham’s journey that will help you fix your eyes on what is seen?
6 There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6 (MSG)
Carol Boggess, author and speaker at A Healing Journey
Carol Boggess © 2021
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts
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