Patience (with a side of Temper Tantrum)
O LORD GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless...you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.
At the beginning of this year, my husband and I left the place that had been our home for the past five years and moved across the country. We left behind close friends, a great church, and a city we loved. We did not make the decision to move lightly, and we believed that God had provided this opportunity for us.
Now that I have been here for a few months, I still feel confident that we made the right choice. However, I can also relate to Abram’s conversation with God at the beginning of Genesis 15 when he says,
“O LORD GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless...you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
Abram is starting to wonder how, when, and if God will provide what he desires, namely an heir. God is not moving at the pace he expected, so he starts to think maybe God is not going to deliver or is going to give him a sub-par version of what he wants (like by making a member of his household his heir instead of giving him his own son).
Upon first read, we may think Abram is just being impatient and immature and needs to buck up and trust God already. And maybe that’s true. But I imagine that most of us at some point or another have felt the same as Abram towards God. As I already said, I can definitely relate to Abram in this situation. I have been in this new city for a few months now, and I am starting to wonder when will it feel I belong here? When will I make deep and meaningful friendships? Are you even going to provide any of that for me, God?
By the way, I know I have only been here a few months and that building real, deep friendships takes time. So yes, I need to chill and get a grip on reality. But I am so thankful that even in my irrationality and impatience, God gives me this story of Abram. Abram’s situation looked much more impossible than mine – his own body was “as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old)” and his wife Sarah’s womb was barren (Romans 4:19). How in the world were they going to have a child? We haven’t gotten there yet in the story (meaning Abram has to wait even longer!), but we know that God does the seemingly impossible and provides them with Isaac.
I also particularly love how God answers Abram in this passage. Though Abram is growing impatient with God, the Lord shows great patience with Abram by reassuring him that he will indeed have an heir. Abram honestly shares his concerns and doubts with God, and God responds in patience and abundant love. He takes him outside, shows him the stars, and says, “So shall your offspring be.” (Gen. 15:5) That just seems so beautiful and intimate to me – like the Father puts His arm on Abram’s shoulder, leads him out under the night sky, and points up, saying, “I can and will do more than you have even thought to ask for.”
Through this story, God reminds me that I can be honest with him and share with him my deepest desires and doubts. I know He will respond in patience and love. I can trust Him to give me even better than what I had thought to ask for, though that may end up looking differently than what I had pictured. He reminds that He can do the impossible, that He is in control, and that His timing is always best. Our hope in Him is never misplaced.