The patience of Abraham.
Patience is a virtue that I’ve struggled with all of my life, and especially when I was younger. Come to think of it, both my impatience and the anger that accompanied it were prevalent constant companions until I began the spiritual journey that I’m on just over five years ago. Since then, I’ve learned (after a great deal of prayer, practice, and self-reminders) to be more patient in most every situation. I’ll be honest in telling you that waiting for God to open doors for me to share my heart with others in the area of ministry has become the last bastion of impatience in my life. I’m ready, willing, and able to go, but apparently He doesn’t think that it’s time. What’s He waiting for? J
I was doing some research the other day and read in the Bible that Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90 when she gave birth to Isaac, the son that God had promised them some twenty-four years earlier! Twenty-four years! Yeah, I know that God’s timetable and ours are totally different; a year for us is the blink of an eye for Him. Still. Twenty-four years? Can you imagine waiting that long for anything, especially a son? I’ve grown impatient after I’ve waiting for a traffic light to change from red to green after, what, maybe a minute?
You have to believe that having a son was a desire of Abraham’s heart long before he was seventy-six years old. Chances are that we could easily swap the numbers around and envision Abraham dreaming of having a son at the age of twenty-four and having to wait seventy-six years for his dream to become a reality. Wow…a lifetime of praying and waiting for the birth of a son.
What’s more is that God had told Abraham that he “would be the father of many nations.” Genesis 17:4 At the time, Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 89, and they were childless. God had to have been kidding, right? Surely the faith and patience of both Abraham and Sarah were stretched to the limit on more than one occasion during their excruciating wait. Still, they remained obedient to God; and God made good on His promise.
Of course, the story gets even better! One day, God came to Abraham and instructed him to take Isaac to the top of a mountain and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. God knew that He was putting Abraham’s obedience to the ultimate test, because of His love for us. What greater love is there than that of a parent for his child?
The next morning, per God’s instructions, Abraham took Isaac and set out for the mountain where he would sacrifice his son. Once there, Abraham built the sacrificial altar, arranged the wood, placed his bound son Isaac on top of the pile and prepared to sacrifice him by his own hand. At the last moment, an angel of God called out to Abraham and told him not to sacrifice Isaac. Because of his obedience, Abraham would be greatly blessed, as would all of his descendants.
And he was. God was true to His promise.
Consider your level of patience, especially as it pertains to God’s plans unfolding in your life. Do you have the patience to wait a year for a prayer to be answered? How about five years? Ten? Could you, like Abraham, wait for twenty-four years for God to make good on a promise?
I’ve been waiting now for five years. If I follow God’s timeline for Abraham, I figure that I have nineteen more years to wait. That’d make me seventy-eight! That’s okay; like I said, Abraham was one hundred years old when Sarah gave birth to Isaac. All I want to do is share what’s on my heart. Patience…
One more thought…
What if you are, or have been waiting for God to answer a prayer for you. You’ve been diligent in your petitions, and while your faith may have wavered a bit, it has never failed. What would your reaction to God be if He finally answered your prayers, then put you to a test that would take away that which you had been praying for all along?
Do you think that you’d pass the test?
That’s a tough one, isn’t it?