Read: Proverbs 20:22 |
In the Bible, procreation is a commandment. It is one of the main purposes of marriage and considered a blessing. (Gen. 1:28; 9:7)
Childlessness or barrenness in a marriage was a curse, a punishment and source of embarrassment. (Lev. 20:20–21; Jer. 22:30) It was with barrenness that God decided to test three of our great patriarchs.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each had wives whom they loved but were childless for decades. Each family unit, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah and Jacob and Rachel all waited at the same bleak and barren crossroads. Their infertility challenged the posture of their faith.
Would they wait for God’s will to come to pass or would they leap-frog waiting and create their own solution?
Willful waiting is intentional. We intentionally submit our will to God’s will. When and if our help is needed, God reaches out to us.
Isaac and his wife Rebecca decided to subjugate their will to God. They waited for God to answer their prayer for children. After 7,300 fruitless days – twenty years – of wondering if this was the day that God would answer their prayers, He answered! (Genesis 25:21)
Rebecca had a difficult pregnancy and asked God about her children as they struggled within her womb. He answered that her two sons would become two nations and the older would serve the younger.
The reward for their patience was the twin sons Jacob and Esau, who became patriarchs of the Jewish and Edomite nations respectively.
Isaac and Rebecca submitted to God’s will. They adopted a “willful” posture of waiting on God to work out His answer to their prayers. Similarly, when faced with a challenge, we should seek to submit our will to His and await His better solution.
Non-willful waiting is shortening the waiting time by finding our own way to fulfill God’s promise within our timing. In essence, we ask God to co-sign “our” will.
The patriarchs Abraham and Jacob provide us examples.
Abraham and Sarah
God promised Abraham that his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5). Yet, Sarah’s prime childbearing years passed without fulfillment.
All of the waiting seemed to sterilize some of their faith that God’s command would come true through their marriage. Eventually, Sarah encouraged her husband to be with her maid Hagar. She reasoned that he could have children with her (Genesis 16:2).
Hagar had children as Sarah and Abraham had planned. Unplanned and unforeseen was the thorn Hagar would become in Sarah’s side. Three angels and one miracle later around the age 90, her son Isaac was born, just as God planned. (Genesis 21:1)
Jacob and Rachel
Jacob thought he had married his beautiful and beloved Rachel. However, he was tricked into marrying the older more homely sister Leah first. He married Rachel a week later. Jacob and Leah had many children, but Rachel remained childless for a while. (Genesis 30:1)
Rachel gave up waiting on God and gave Jacob her maidservant, Bilhah, as an alternative solution. She declared Bilhah’s son was her son and that God had answered her plea – via her solution. Finally, after Leah had given Jacob seven children, God “remembered” Rachel. (Genesis 30:22) She gave birth to Joseph and later Benjamin.
Both Abraham and Jacob show us the pitfalls that await us when we intentionally circumvent waiting on God to devise our own solutions.
In each of these cases, they prayed and waited decades for God’s answer to be revealed. God used their infertility to show His miraculous power and to carry out His plan for human history.
In our lives, we can also face situations where we feel that God has clearly shown us the direction to go but God’s timing is in the future. If we attempt to accelerate God’s plans, our efforts will likely be infertile and impotent. Be intentional and await God’s timing. As a result, we will receive the pregnant promises He has in store for us.
1. Discover –
A. Waiting for something you want very, very badly is tough especially when you feel God’s answer is “wait”. How do you approach this situation in your life?
B. Have you seen others that you admire who handle waiting in a tough situation better than you do? How did they do it? Ask them this week!
2. Develop –
A. Willful Waiting is intentional waiting. Are there certain types of things you can intentionally wait for God to move before you decide to try to help Him?
B. Non-Willful Waiting is not what God wants for us. When you feel yourself about to slip into this state, can you tell? How do you stop?
3. Demonstrate –
A. How can you become more intentional in waiting on God’s will?
Profiles on Waiting Outline
Postures we should adopt when waiting for/with/upon God
1. Wait on Time (link)
2. Watch for Him (link)
3. Wait by walking within Touching Distance (link)
4. Work while waiting upon God’s Answer (link)
5. Willful Waiting does not Wilt (link)
6. Weather the Storms while waiting under His Umbrella (link)
7. Wait with an Unwavering Faith (link)