God’s timing in our lives is one of those things that often trips us up. We sometimes wonder what He is doing and question if He is even listening. We ask God for something, and seemingly nothing happens. We want Aunt Martha healed, but she remains sick or even dies. We want that promotion, but someone else gets it. Instead of getting the answer we want, we often get silence. We struggle like Job. “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me” (Job 30:20 NIV). But in the end, faith recognizes that God is wiser than we are and that He is outside of time. He sees the whole picture and is doing something bigger than we can imagine. As we acknowledge Him, trust Him, and lean not on our own understanding, He lights the path for us to follow (Proverbs 3:5–6). Abram recognized this and trusted God’s faithfulness. As hard as it is at times, so should we. Another writer put it this way:
Let us learn this lesson—God never forgets, he cannot forget! He sees the end from the beginning; he is in the eternal now. He is from everlasting to everlasting. He is not in the flux of time; he is outside it. He does not see things as we do. He seems to forget but he does not.[i]
Like many people, my life has had its ups and downs. Looking back, I can now appreciate those lingering seasons of wrestling and waiting, but I’m not going to try to sound all super spiritual and say it’s easy. Wrestling and waiting are tough! And years of wrestling and waiting will wear a person down. Deep down in the core of my being, I had an intuitive sense of destiny for ministry. I knew God had a plan for me and that He always provided, yet my endurance was wearing thin. I was weary, and nothing seemed to be happening. At times the silence was indeed loud. How much longer, Lord? How long?
Struggling to find out what I was to do for the Lord, I even contemplated giving up my dreams of ministry and returning to law school, since every good Jewish boy (and his mother) knows that he should be either a doctor or a lawyer. While those certainly are noble occupations, for me it would not be God’s best. Somewhere, beneath the chaos and the silence, I could hear His still, small voice wooing me, telling me not to pursue other things—that He had a calling on my life and I should stay focused and wait.
God asked Abram to wait. In Genesis 13:14–18, He expanded on His promise to Abram. He promised not only land but also to “make [his][his] seed could also be counted” (Genesis 13:16).
Years later the idea of one heir, let alone children “like the dust of the earth,” seemed impossible to Abram and Sarai. Every time they saw their aged faces reflected in still waters or polished bronze, the couple was reminded that they were well beyond childbearing years.
Fully aware of Abram and Sarai’s fatigue from wrestling and waiting, God decided to give Abram a new vision. He took him out of his tent—out of his circumstances—and showed him something different. “Look up now, at the sky, and count the stars—if you are able to count them,” God said to Abram. “So shall your seed be” (Genesis 15:5). This new perspective from God renewed Abram’s faith (v. 6), and he believed the promise. This one verse is so critical to all of Scripture that, many years later, the apostle Paul, whom I like to call Rabbi Paul, established his definition of salvation on it (Romans 4; Galatians 5). Salvation does not come by the law or works; it comes through God’s mercy and faith. God renewed Abram’s faith. Abram realized God was in control and there was nothing he could do outside of believing God’s promises.
God’s promises are never in doubt. When we endanger God’s promises, there will be consequences, but that doesn’t stop God from moving forward with His purposes. We can still trust Him when our field of vision is narrow. Often our field of vision is limited to “my, me, and mine,” but we need to expand it until we can see God using our lives in His design. Sometimes when things seem impossible, we need to walk “out of our tent” and let God cast a new vision for us.
Watch Session 1
[i] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Magnify the Lord: Luke 1:46–55 (1998; repr., Fearn, Ross-shire UK: Christian Focus with Bryntirion Press, 2011), 74–75.