Have you gone through times of waiting where perhaps minutes felt like hours, and days like years? It feels as though life has ground to a standstill and time froze while you’re seeing others around you move on.
Perhaps you start to wonder, “Will God answer my prayer?” or “Why is He taking so long?” followed by self-condemning thoughts of “Maybe I didn’t pray enough”, “I’m not worthy” or even having an urge to ‘help God’.
While it’s important to be introspective and examine our lives, there are times where we need to step back, wait on God, and know the mind of Christ.
Sarai, the wife of Abram, was 90 years old when God told Abram that He was going to bless Sarai and she would give birth to a son.
According to Bible scholars and historians, the ancient Hebrew women married in their teens aged between 18 and 20. This would likely mean that Sarai had been married and barren for almost 70 years before she conceived.
The Biblical text poignantly reveals the importance of children to the women of that time and the emotional and social distress caused by barrenness – a form of social death. And barrenness was perceived as a curse from God (Genesis 16:2a).
As for Sarai, unbelief in God’s promise of a son, impatience, and almost a lifetime of barrenness possibly pushed her over the edge, causing her to give her slave, Hagar, to Abram. After all, this was considered socially-acceptable in their cultural norm.
Anna, on the other hand, was exemplary as one who waited on God and saw the fulfilment of His promises. With only three verses in Scriptures, very little is recorded of her. Her speech, though not narrated, led to a powerful story.
She’s among only a handful of women in the Bible bearing the title ‘prophetess’, and the only named female prophet in the New Testament.
Luke names her father and tribe, making her one of the few New Testament characters with tribal listings. Also, she was one of the witnesses who recognised Jesus as the Saviour of the world when Joseph and Mary brought Him to the temple.
In her time, widows were frequently subject to abuse, such that the Book of Job used their exploitations to exemplify human iniquity. Yet, Anna did not live under the stigma of a widow.
She did not allow bitterness to develop in her heart, but continued to put her trust in God and waited expectantly for the manifestation of His promises.
The psalmist proclaims, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14
“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.” A. W. Tozer
There’s hope and purpose in times of waiting for prayers to be answered. God promises in Isaiah 64:4 to act for the one who waits for Him. Don’t give up! Don’t despair. Your breakthrough is nearer than you think.