October 1, 2010

Years of Waiting

Do you think you've been waiting a long time?

Abram was promised was promised a son at 86 years old, and had Isaac at 99. That's 13 years of waiting on God's promise. [Genesis 15-17] Then, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac and he says yes.

Then, in Genesis 22:12:
"Do not lay a hand on the boy!" he [the Angel of the Lord] said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."
After waiting for a son for decades, then waiting 13 years for a promise to be fulfilled, Isaac is the fulfillment of what Abraham has wanted for a century. Then God asks him to demonstrate how much he loves him by giving him up.

Jacob worked for 14 years for Laban just to marry the woman he wanted to marry, because he had been tricked into marrying her sister as well. He had run away from his brother, who wanted to kill him because Jacob had tricked him into giving him his birthright, and had tricked his father into blessing him instead. He stayed with Laban for 20 years before going back to his brother Esau.

When they met again, after 20 years, having left after theft, deception, and anger:
But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept. [Genesis 33:4]
Jacob, over this time, had twelve sons. His favorite, born of the wife he loved, was Joseph. One day, Joseph died... or so he thought.

Jacob spent 21 years believing Joseph was dead. That's as long as I've been alive. Then, came good news; the son who was long dead to Jacob was alive! What's more than that, Joseph brought them to Egypt, the most prosperous land anywhere at that time, and they lived in comfort and completeness. TWENTY-ONE YEARS.

And then we have Joseph's side of those 21 years. Thirteen of them were spent either as a servant or in prison. He was deceitfully accused by Potiphar's wife, was put in prison, and later forgotten about for two years. There were 13 years, from age 17 to 30, where God was slowly but sure preparing him for huge things... thing that he had promised Joseph at age 17! Then it was another 8 years before he saw his family again. He waited 21 years for the promises to come to fulfillment!

David had a very similar thing happen. He was anointed king, the forgotten and youngest son out of many. He was anointed king at 30 [2 Samuel 5:3-4]. Even if he was 20 when he was the youngest son sent out to be a shepherd, that was 10 years of waiting and being exiled from the very kingdom he was supposed to rule by the father of his closest friend.

Those are just a few example from the Old Testament. I say this to challenge you to put things in perspective. This past summer was a very rough one for me, but God taught me very much; one of the blessing that it was a three-month season of tough trials that I got to see the blessing of (in growth and maturity) very soon afterward; it reassured me that God is using the much longer-term trials too.

Thus, I want to encourage you to stay faithful by holding on and not jumping the gun or giving up hope. The Greek word for enduring has a literal translation meaning "holding tightly." And some translations use "longsuffering" instead of "perseverance;" I prefer the first one. It's much more accurate.

I realize this post isn't as happy as some others have been, but I want to say that there is a promise of happiness to come even if much suffering is happening now.

Psalm 27:13-14:

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

1 comment:

  1. Amen, Zach! God has great plans for you (and all of us) but if we keep stepping in to bring them to fruition, they will not bear the fruit He designed, nor bless us nearly as much! I pray that He sustains you through this time of waiting ~ I believe He is grooming many of us at the present time :-) Hugs to you!!