Patience. Such a difficult word. For most, I mean. We live in a technological world today where a lot of information, contacts, and well the internet itself is at our fingertips. We constantly here about the fastest phone service or the quickest route the GPS tells us. (I call mine Jane). Through this lifestyle, comes some negativity. We want things to come to us at this very second. While your Hot and Ready pizza may be at the door, your constant prayer may feel like it’s floating in the air. Some of you today are probably feeling discouraged or angry with God because you have asked the same prayer over and over, hoping it will be answered immediately. You see, God sometimes does not answer our prayers at the very second He hears it because He may be putting you through a trial of patience. Now you are probably saying “Well, Mel? How would you know that?” I have one story that I am about to show you on how God not only helps us through being patient, but also keeping His promise to us.
This story is about Abraham, the father of many nations. In Genesis 12, The Lord came to “Abram” and “Sarai” (their names before “Abraham” and “Sarah”) and said to them: “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.” Wow! How would you respond to that? Would you believe Him? Would you take a leap of faith? Some questions to think about as we continue. Now here is the catch with Abram and Sarai. They both have been praying the same prayer for years and years (they are both in their late 70’s by the way in the beginning). They both wanted a child. God knew they did. The Lord later tells them both this: “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” So, they both began on this journey along with their nephew Lot to fulfill God’s commandment to them. During their travel Lot and Abram became very wealthy by selling livestock, but the people they lived among were quarrelsome and fought over the wealth one had. So, Abram and Lot went their separate ways so that they would both remain civil. Later, as Abram and Sarai set camp the Lord appeared to them again: “The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the LORD.” Notice how God stated “your offspring” when he approached them a second time. Abram and Sarai still held onto the hope of them bearing a child. Abram was later told that Lot was in danger in the city he was living so he sought out to rescue him. And after he successfully defeated the enemies and saved Lot, the Lord approached him and said: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. So, God had already fulfilled one of Abram’s promises. He had to fight and go through tribulation, but he was made a blessing from God. Later on, Abram becomes afraid because he knows that his wife cannot bear children. The Lord sees how Abram feels and approaches him saying: “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ” But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. God stated a third time he and Sarai will have a child! WOW!
God instilled in Abram that he would receive a child, but as many of us through a trial of patience, temptations can happen that can ruin everything. In the beginning of chapter 16, we see that Sarai tells Abram that she cannot bear children with him, but instead tells him to sleep with her slave Hagar so they could possibly start a family. Uhm, what? That seems like a disaster in the making! Turns out that it true: “So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.” “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael,for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi ; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. Instead of Abram and Sarai having faith and believing that God would carry out His unfailing promises, they chose to submit to their sinful desires and made a disastrous mistake that haunted the land for many years. Abram and Sarai knew that they made a huge mistake. God prevailed and still honored His promise. He called Abram “Abraham: father of many nations.” And Sarai “Sarah, who will be able to bare his child.” And so Abraham (100 years old) and Sarah (90 years old) had obtained their constant prayer: a son. This whole study today is to show that God does honor His promises to those who eagerly wait for Him. It is very easy to get caught up in the world and wanting things to happen “our way”, but we need to understand that God wants the absolute best for us. He sets our paths according to His will, which is to bring us to glory. It is one of the hardest fruits to take care of, but with God we cannot possibly fail. Take the time this week to reflect on areas where you aren’t trusting God and where you need to be more patient.
“And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we not faint.” Galatians 6:9