The Waiting Is The Hardest Part by Jon Walker
But Sarai, Abram's wife, had no children. So Sarai took her servant, an Egyptian woman named Hagar, and gave her to Abram so she could bear his children. “The LORD has kept me from having any children,” Sarai said to Abram. “Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed. (Genesis 16:1-2 NLT)
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And so Sarai took it upon herself to solve God’s problem. After all, God told Sarai’s husband, Abram, that he’d have a huge family, more descendants than there are stars in the sky. (Genesis 15)
Sarai waited and waited for God to provide their first descendant, but the baby didn’t come. She waited week after week, hopeful that God would answer her prayers, that God would make good on his promise. Every day, the tension and the frustration mounted. As the musician, Tom Petty, sings: “The waiting is the hardest part.”
Like me – perhaps like you – Sarai began to wonder if God would ever answer her prayers. She wondered if God had forgotten about her, as if God’s promise had been mis-filed or improperly prioritized in the perceived bureaucracy of heaven. Perhaps – like you, like me – Sarai questioned whether God really knew what he was doing.
It appears Sarai’s thoughts walked as far as her faith would carry her, and then she stood looking at the mountains of her fear. Did God understand how important this was to her? How could God deny her the greatest desire of her heart? Was God even on her side?
Even as Sarai acknowledged God’s ability to fulfill the promise – “The LORD has kept me from having any children …” – yet she denied God’s sovereignty to decide when the promise would be fulfilled.
And so Sarai took it upon herself to fulfill the promise, no longer trusting God to do his job. The waiting is the hardest part, and Sarai was tired of the wait.
Sitting in a humid tent, she hears the support poles creak; she hears, through the open flaps, a camel snort; and she hears … was that a voice, like the hiss of a serpent, saying, "Really? Did God really say your husband would be the father of a family so vast it would surpass the number of stars in the sky?" (Consider Genesis 3.)
Sarai said, “God can, but he won’t." Or maybe she said, "God can’t figure this out.” Looking through the tent’s door, she saw her servant Hagar, and in that moment she saw the solution, though she didn’t see the Pandora’s Box she would soon open. Perhaps she even though, "Of course! This is probably the answer God meant for me to see all along."
Her faith was collapsing, but so was Abram’s, for when Sarai suggested the solution was through Hagar, Abram agreed.
So what does this mean?
Waiting for God is hard – God is not surprised when we’re honest about our frustrations and fears. Often God requires us to wait because he’s trying to show us the end of our faith, stretching our faith, not condemning us for the lack of it. In these moments, seek God and not the answer.
Whose side are you on? – Sarai believed her assumptions more than God’s promise. She wonders why God was no longer on her side – "Why is the LORD keeping this from me?" – instead of confessing that she was no longer on God’s side. Ask God to help you identify the places in your life where you’re saying, "The LORD is keeping this from me!" What will you do with what he reveals to you?
God opens and closes doors – Even as Sarai took matters into her own hands, she acknowledged God had the power to provide more heirs than there were stars in the sky. If we could ask Sarai, "Can God?" she probably would answer yes. If we then asked Sarai, "Will God?" her honest answer would appear to have been no. When faced with a delayed answer, do you break with God? What does manipulating an answer to your prayer say about your belief in the character of God? What does "giving up on God" say about the depth of your faith?
Restoring your faith – Like mastery-based education, God’s interest is that you master the lessons of faith. He wants you to succeed in your lessons, able to walk further in faith each day. So failure is not defeat; he will continue to teach you – and stretch you – until walking by faith and not by sight is as natural as breathing. Tell God, "I believe; help my unbelief!”