Genesis 16:1-2 (NIV): Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said.
Sarai knew what the problem was: she was barren. She knew what the cause of the problem was: God had kept her from having children. Her next step was to leap from there straight to a solution: Abram should sleep with Hagar, and the resulting child would be legally counted as Sarai’s. So, all on her own, and in her own strength, she figured out a way to make God’s promise of abundant descendants for Abram come true.
But Sarai missed an important step: she never considered the fact that God had kept her barren up to that point for a reason. It wasn’t that God was remiss, or that He was unaware of her barrenness when He made the promise to Abram. It wasn’t that He was powerless to engineer what He had promised. Her barrenness was actually all a part of God’s plan.
Sarai had been barren for all of those years by His specific design. God let her get all the way through menopause, and well beyond it, so that when she did conceive, there would be absolutely no question in anyone’s mind that it was God’s power that had accomplished it; that it was a mighty miracle that confirmed the promise that He had made to Abram, despite how impossible keeping that promise might look from a purely human perspective. Despite the passage of time (it was over 24 years from God’s first promise to Abram until Sarai – then Sarah – became pregnant; a long time when you are waiting for a miracle!), God had not lost track of His promise, nor did He lack the power to pull it off. He was working the whole time, planning and orchestrating circumstances, and ensuring that everything happened at the exact time and place that would move His plan forward.
God knows that we are inherently impatient. When we receive a promise, we become excited and want it to come to fulfillment right away. All of God’s promises will be fulfilled to the letter. But the fulfillment must always await His divinely appointed time. God won’t be hurried, and He can’t be successfully worked around. His promises are not made in isolation; every one of them is made and fulfilled as part of His much larger plan to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. So we need to be patient in waiting for God’s promised blessings. We need to be still and let Him work everything out at exactly the right time.
Father, thank You for Your promises to us – amazing promises that fill us with awe and draw our hearts after You in expectation. But as we wait, Lord, help us to wait in joyful expectation, not in impatience. Help us to enjoy the journey to Your fulfillment, instead of being so fixated on the destination that we miss the wonders and miracles that You bless us with along the way. Amen.