Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14, ESV)
O come, thou Dayspring from on high
And cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Abraham. Sarah. Isaac.
We encounter so much waiting in this life, don’t we? I admit I’m terrible at it. I get all anxious, try to force things to happen faster, and end up messing everything up.
Abraham and Sarah can relate to that, don’t you think?
Remember the story from Gen. 12:1-4?
When Abraham was seventy-five years old, God promised he would be the father of a great nation.
In order for this to happen, well, Sarah, Abraham’s sixty-five-year-old wife, needed to get pregnant, but, um, she was sixty-five! Her womb was dead. She possessed zero ability to conceive and bear a child.
Despite her laughing at the idea, God reiterated his promise. “Really, Sarah, you are going to have a baby, a little boy. It will happen.”
But years went by, and Sarah was like, “I’m not getting any younger!” So she meddled. “Here, honey, let’s help God out. Take my maidservant. Have a baby with her. Then you can be the father of a great nation, like you wanted. Sound like a good plan?”
So Abraham, that pillar of faith, stopped trusting God. His wife did too, and they implemented their own plan.
This is never good.
Can you relate? When trust in Jesus slips, what happens? Anxiety usually replaces it, then fear, then unsound thoughts, and then faithless actions. That’s the pattern I see in my life. You too?
But God knows about my impatience, and thankfully he never throws me to the wind, but stays with me despite my constant failings.
He was patient with Abram too. How God’s kindness surrounded him.
But the problem of the baby remained. It was taking so long. Sometimes it seems like God takes FOREVER to keep his promises. How long did Abraham and Sarah wait? Twenty-five years!
Night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year for twenty-five years they saw no evidence of God keeping his promise of a child. Do you think they ever doubted God’s faithfulness? Do you think they felt like giving up? I probably would have.
But finally after all those long and lonely years…
A baby is born! Sarah’s dead womb brings forth life. Isaac finally comes. I can imagine Abraham’s entourage (we know it was at least 300) rejoicing. Now that must’ve been a party.
What relief Abraham surely feels after all the tormented waiting, worry, struggles with disbelief. But finally, the elderly Abraham (a ripe 100 now) holds the child of promise in his wrinkled arms. How he loves his son!
Do you see?
After years of waiting for God to fulfill his promise, a baby is born from a womb which had no possibility of producing a child.
Do you see Advent?
Back in Genesis 3:15 God promised a deliverer, and his people had to wait not twenty-five years, but thousands of years. Oh, when will he come?
With each Bible hero, you can’t help but wonder, is this the promised one? Is it Seth, Noah, Abraham…?
Nope. Keep waiting.
But finally…a baby is born to a virgin. Baby Jesus! And just like father Abraham delights in Isaac, God the Father delights in his son. (Matt. 3:17, Mark 1:11)
But Isaac’s story isn’t over.
Just when everything looks rosy for Abraham, tragedy strikes. (Isn’t that how things often happen?) God sends him on a dreadful mission.
“Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Gen. 22:2
“No, not Isaac, Lord. We’ve waited so long for him. Please, don’t take Isaac!” That’s what I would’ve said.
But Abraham simply trusted and obeyed. Maybe his years of walking with God, failing miserably but continually receiving forgiveness and blessings, taught him something. Maybe he grew.
I hope, by God’s grace, the struggles I endure now will end in my improved faithfulness as the years go by.
Well, we know what happens on that mountain, and there are so many parallels to Christ, my mind is spinning! I bet you can think of some.
- Abraham and Sarah wait for Isaac. God’s people wait for the Messiah.
- Abraham loves Isaac who God calls, “your son, your only son, whom you love.” God the father loves Jesus (as we saw earlier).
- Just when it looks like God had finally kept his promise, Isaac must die. Just when it looks like the coming Messiah will finally bring deliverance (remember a week before the crucifixion, Jesus was hailed king in Jerusalem), he must die.
- Carrying wood, Isaac climbs a mountain. Carrying the cross, Jesus climbs the mountain of Golgotha.
But the parallels between Isaac and Jesus stop here, don’t they? A male sheep takes Isaac’s place. No animal takes Jesus’ place. He is that lamb. The sacrificial lamb.
And then, more waiting. Three days to be exact. On the third day, Isaac, in a sense, rises again from impending death.
Those who loved Jesus also waited three days. Three lonely, dark days.
Then…finally…the waiting is over. But we celebrate that on a different holiday.
Dear friends, I know it’s hard to wait, but it sure seems to be a part of God’s plan. Many times waiting is a time of suffering, full of anxiety and fear.
But haven’t we seen—both in Abraham’s waiting for his sweet boy Isaac and in the longing for the promised savior—that the payoff is worth it? Really worth it!
When times of waiting come—to hear about a new job, to find out test results, to feel better, or simply for something good to happen—remember our dear Jesus only has your best in mind. He is your Emmanuel, God with us. He will never leave you. He’s holding your hand through this time. He hasn’t forgotten you. When you keep our eyes on him and trust in his good plan, the waiting gets easier. Trust him today and stand confident that no matter what happens, your times are in his hands (Ps. 31:8).
Remember, he loves you like there’s no tomorrow.
Shine your light: How have you gotten through a time of waiting. Would you share? I’d love to hear and I know it would encourage others.