Written by Holly Madden, LeadHer Local Director. Connect with Holly on Instagram.
Imagine Sarah as a young woman. She has been married now for many years and still… no child. Each month brings the same constant reminder … she is barren.
Imagine Abraham each month as he listen to Sarah weep and pray. Each month, he himself prays, sacrifices, and asks God for a son.
The months turned into years, and the years into decades.
It took decades before God took Abraham on a walk outside of his tent and told him, “look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them…so shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5 ESV).
Again, it took another 2 decades before Sarah, a woman in her 90’s conceived and gave birth to the promised baby boy.
Abraham and Sarah’s life carried the grandiose theme of waiting.
And then God calls Abraham to sacrifice the son who is most precious to him.
On our LeadHer Local Teaching video this month, Christie Love and Deborah Tadesse brought a powerful perspective to this story as God asks Abraham to sacrifice his long awaited son, Isaac.This month’s LeadHer Local teaching challenged us all to put ourselves in the emotions and lives of these beloved Bible characters.
As I found myself hearing this story again, as if for the first time, one thing jumped out to me in a way it never has before.
He believed that Isaac would come back.
When God asked Abraham to kill his own son and sacrifice him on the altar, Abraham not only obeyed, he measured this action against the promise God had given him on a starry night, and he chose to trust that God was still faithful to keep that promise. He chose to see God as limitless in His power. As Christie touched on in the teaching video, even while Abraham was leaving to bind Isaac and lay him on the altar to sacrifice, he declared that “we [my son and I] will come back” (Genesis 22:3 ESV emphasis added).
We will come back.
God has promised you something. He has given you a desire, filled you with a passion, provided you a vision, or placed a call on your life. You may find full confidence in the placement of this promise, or you may still be in a season of seeking and waiting for God to refine your desires and instill in you a call laced with a promise. Maybe it’s a promise of a child, a marriage, a career or a cause to advocate for. Maybe it’s a physical healing, financial freedom, or restoration in a relationship. Maybe it’s direction, relocation to another country to share the Gospel, or an education to further develop a call. Maybe it’s the salvation of someone close to you, or it’s a promise that God will use your story to bring hope to someone in the darkness.
I don’t know what your personal heart clings to or what desires and longings fill your prayers, but I do know that God is faithful.
And He is still faithful even if it takes decades for God to fulfill the promise He has made to you. As long as you make the persistent choice to keep your attention centered on God.
David was also given a promise, the promise of an anointing to be king of Israel someday. Theologians believe that David was on the run from Saul’s death threats for around 8 years. 4 of those years were spent hiding in caves, living as a refugee, and actively pursuing God as we see in many of the Psalms David wrote during this time (Psalm 18, 57, 59, 63, 70, 142, etc.). The final 4 years were spent settling in Gath. 1 Samuel 27 tells the story of David acting out of discouragement as he flees to the land of the Philistines, the same people Israel was at war with when David killed Goliath. He ran to a pagan land considered to be an enemy of Israel seeking to settle. He brought with him 600 men and their families and requested of King Achish a city for them to reside in. For 4 more years, David settled, away from the promised land and away from God’s promise to him to be King. During this time, very few Psalms are written.
As our LeadHer Local Chapters have studied in depth the concept of our attention forming our worship, this story teaches a powerful lesson about the temptation to focus our attention from the the sometimes seemingly impossible promises of God to a apathetic, settled reality.
This temptation is strongest when we measure culture’s standards against the promises of God. I’ve heard so many women share disappointment,
- “God promised me that I would get married, but I’m 40 now, so I guess I heard Him wrong.”
- “I am called to own my own business but after 5 failed attempts, maybe God got it wrong.”
- “God promised he would heal my chronic illness, but I’m still sick. Maybe God doesn’t want to heal me.”
We limit the power of God when we begin to measure His plan against our timelines and expectations. Comparison only ever breeds disappointment and disappointment is one of the greatest ways the enemy steals our attention.
David limited God when he ran away to Gath, requested a city, and settled.
Sarah limited God when she overheard the promise of a child, and she laughed because she thought she was too old.
Abraham could have limited God, but instead, He chose to trust the promise through the impossibility of his circumstances. I don’t know what images ran through his head as he tied the arms and feet of his only son, but he knew that either God would replace his sacrifice or God would raise his son from the dead. He knew that he would return with his child, even if it took an act of God.
Abraham’s faith was met by God with His gracious act of provision. God provided a ram in place of Isaac and father and son did come back together.
God is faithful and we can trust Him to fulfill His every promise.
God is also merciful. When David settled in Gath, he lost 4 years. We don’t know how soon God was intending to act on his promise but we can be sure that our disobedience postpones God’s plan.
Even if society’s timeline seems to be screaming at you that you are running out of time. Even if failure seems to follow your every step. Even if you’re in a season where God is silent. Even if your waiting has turned from months into years and years into decades. Even if you feel discouraged by the unfulfilled promises in your life, keep your attention focused on God, He is always faithful.