An Illustration in Waiting
I am an answer to persistent prayer and a diligently waiting mother. Much like Hanna (1 Samuel 1) and Elizabeth (Luke 1) pleaded for children and God graciously answered each one, my Mom implored God for a child and He answered her three-fold: twin boys and a girl. She had experienced a number of health complications in her teen years and early adulthood that led doctors to warn, “You may never have children.” Not long into her marriage to my Dad, her longing for a child turned to praying for God to give her what she feared she may never have. Prayers early in the morning and late at night continued for weeks. Weeks began to bleed over into months. Months and months of prayer eventually creeped into years. Those years stretched into more than a decade. That decade of praying and pleading with God was marked by seasons of great intensity, days of fasting, and stretches of settled faith. God didn’t answer her prayer for a child until she and my Dad had been married more than 10 years. When He answered the first time, He gave her twin boys. She would pray again. Three years later, he gave her a daughter.
Nearly 4 decades later, I never want to forget that my Mom waited and prayed anticipating God’s ears hearing and his hand acting. I never want to forget that because she waited expectantly, I’m here typing these words right now. I never want to forget that her waiting displays what David commands in Psalm 46:10. Be still. Wait.
In contrast, Sarah didn’t wait on God. Although she would be the eventual mother of Isaac, God’s promised child to her and Abraham, she couldn’t be patient. She took matters into her own hands, giving her servant Hagar to Abraham as a wife and surrogate mother who would give birth to Ishmael. Sarah’s impatience would cause much turmoil in her home and eventually lead to great contention between Ishmael’s descendants and Isaacs descendants for generations.
To wait on God, as David commanded, means to remain actively actionless. It’s an expectant waiting. It’s a hopeful waiting. It’s an eager waiting. It’s a prepared waiting. But it’s waiting! Sarah grasped and manipulated and “helped” God, and in so doing made most everything worse. But her gracious God still gave Isaac. While this is pure speculation, it almost appears that Hannah and Elizabeth looked to their ancestor Sarah and refused to “help God out.” They waited, and pleaded, and he acted. In his due time.
On January 15, 2018, after years of battling heart issues and other physical difficulties, my Mom finished her waiting. If she had lived longer than she did, her course would’ve meant constant pain and doctor’s appointments to maintain, at best, her disintegrating health. Much as she had years ago, she waited on Jesus to visit her. This time she was waiting on him to take her home. And he did. All of her waiting is over. But ours is not, so let us wait patiently, prayerfully, intentionally, expectantly. For he will act!