When it’s Hard to Wait

True confession: I can be impatient. I do not have to think hard for examples. There is the time I drove 45 MPH in a 25 MPH zone and had to endure the humiliation of military police traffic school. (Does a car even register the 15–25 MPH speeds posted on military installations?) And I cannot count the many outfits I could not wait to buy, only to find them 50–75 percent off the next week. Impatience has cost me both time and money.

Waiting is hard. In the case of Abraham and Sarah, a decade passed after God promised an heir. Who could blame Sarah for taking matters into her own hands? God said there would be a child and Sarah’s biological clock had stopped ticking. Surely God needed a little help.

Before we get too critical of Sarah, it is useful to know that the customs of the day allowed for surrogate motherhood if there was an infertile wife. Survival of an agrarian family depended on sons to carry on the work. It may have been an accepted practice, but was it part of God’s plan? Sarah was Abraham’s wife. She and Abraham were one flesh. The promised son was to come from her.

God’s timing frequently requires waiting. Getting ahead of his plan has consequences that become evident as the scene in Genesis 16 plays out. Sarah’s impatience resulted in a loss of respect and confidence. She lost confidence in Abraham’s dedication to her, Hagar lost job security, and Abraham almost lost the son Hagar bore him.

Opportunities to learn to wait are built into military life, from the simple act of going to the commissary on payday to the emotional experience of deployment. Take advantage of such opportunities to cultivate a life of waiting well, and allow God to sustain you in the process.

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