When a woman is pregnant, she is given a “due date.” How often is that baby born on that exact date? When the baby doesn’t come, does she decide that means she no longer wants it? Does she give up on it ever coming? No, of course not.
And yet, that is what we do to God, when He gives us a promise. It puts us in a place of expecting, but for some reason we think that promise should be delivered in our timing instead of His.
And we are so good at getting upset with Him for taking too long, to the point of either giving up on it, or trying to make it happen our way.
There are all kinds of examples of people in the Bible who were given promises by God, and it took a lot longer for those promises to take effect than what the person thought it would. Some people waited patiently, and some people tried to do things their own way, making a mess of things.
- The Israelites, who were led out of Egypt by Moses, ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. They themselves did not go in and receive the promise of a new land. It was their children who went in to inherit God’s promise and become the nation of Israel.
- The example that seems to be the most common is Abraham and Sarah. In waiting for God to give them the promise of an heir, Abraham had sexual relations with Sarah’s maid. She conceived, had Ishmael, who was not the heir of God’s promise to Abraham, and we are still dealing with the consequences today.
- What about Noah? He was building an ark at a time where water had never fallen out of the sky. It took 100 years for him to build that ark, and to have the promised rain to fall and flood the earth.
- Even though David was anointed as King of Israel, for many years he was running for his life from Saul, before he actually sat on the throne as the king, fulfilling God’s promise to him.
Have you ever noticed when it is God’s time to make good on His promises, He often moves in “suddenlies”? Well, it is sudden to us. He has been busy behind the scenes the whole time, doing whatever needs to be done to keep His promises on track to give to us.
Remember the disciples in the upper room? They were told to wait until the promise came to them (Acts 1:4). And when it came, it was definitely a “suddenly.”
There are people all around you who have experienced God’s “suddenly”; people who have faced a disease or infirmity such as back pain for 5, 10, or 20 years who suddenly get healed. Couples who have been infertile for many years suddenly find themselves expecting a child. People who have needed a job or been in financial hardships suddenly get the job they need.
What about those who don’t get healed, or don’t get pregnant, or don’t get that dream job? I have been hit smack in the face with that question several times.
One time was when our 3 year old daughter had bone cancer, going through nine months of chemo and had her leg amputated. The most recent was when that same daughter died, due to heart damage caused by those chemo drugs that saved her life 26 years earlier.
Believe me, I know the line, “She is healed. She received the ultimate healing and is in heaven now.” Let me just say, that is not usually a comfort to most people who are in the freshest part of deep grief, especially a parent who has so wrongly buried their child (regardless of the age of the child).
When I found myself in that horrible place, I had to ask God once again about this issue of faith and expectation. My daughter had lived through multiple life threatening health issues in the last year and a half of her life that should have killed her. It was only by God’s miraculous hand she survived several of the things she did. The goal of her medical team was to get her healthy enough to be able to receive a heart transplant, should a heart become available for her. I believed with every fiber of my being that God was going to either miraculously heal her heart, or she would get that transplant. I had seen miracle after miracle of things she lived through that should have already killed her multiple times.
As sick as she was, I felt very blindsided the night my daughter’s heart just gave out and she left this earth and transferred to her eternal home.
One day in my deep sorrow and anguish, I asked God about this. He reminded me of Hebrews chapter eleven verse six, that “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” In other words, faith brings Him pleasure. He let me know that my faith had brought Him a great amount of pleasure. I realized at that point, that faith is more than just saying what you want and getting it because of making a demand on God and His power. Faith is based on my relationship with God.
Up until that point, I had always seen faith as something I had to somehow reach out and get a hold of. I had to grow that and get more faith by reading my Bible enough, hearing enough messages, finding ways to be around God’s Word to make my faith grow. And it felt like I could just never have as much of it as I needed. And yet at the same time, I knew how much faith I had in God to heal my daughter.
God began to change my perspective on faith. In the Complete Jewish Bible version, you will never see the word faith. It is always translated as “trust”. So Hebrews 11: 6 reads, “And without trusting, it is impossible to be well pleasing to God, because whoever approaches him must trust that he does exist and that he becomes a Rewarder to those who seek him out.”
For me personally, I find it much easier to trust, then to have faith, if that makes sense. I’ve always felt like faith is something I have to conjure up. But trust is something I can just surrender to, and release myself into it. And that is where the relationship comes in. My faith in God is based on my trust in God’s Word, His faithfulness and His goodness. That means, even though my faith did not receive what I was believing for, my trust in God was rooted in my relationship with Him, so my faith was not shaken.
I am in good company. Hebrews chapter eleven is pretty much a list of many people who did not see their faith in the promises of God manifested on this side of eternity.
I have continued to expect God to keep His promises to me. And God has continued to remind me of His goodness, His faithfulness, and how much I can trust Him, with things like the birth of my next granddaughter almost one year exactly after losing my daughter from this earth. He used my sons, who would do things like surprise me with flowers, or send me incredibly encouraging text messages. Since that time, God has also birthed a ministry in me, flowing through me in such a way that I wrote my first book, followed by three more books in the same year!
God truly is good all the time. If He has given you a promise, keep expecting! Keep walking in faith that pleases Him. Trust Him! The answer to your promise can happen any day! Or it might not happen at all this side of eternity. But it WILL happen.