Are You Willing to Stand in God's Place or Go at His Pace?

Battling the Unbelief of Impatience


November 2006

Are you waiting for something? I mean really waiting with deep longing in your soul for something beyond your control?  You might be waiting to conceive a child, receive financial provision, see a loved one come to faith, get married, see a serious illness healed, or move in a ministry direction to which you feel called.. Are you waiting for God to answer? If so, you are in a good (though hard) place.

God highly values the fruit produced in the soul that learns to wait patiently for him. So he takes pains to cultivate it in us. That’s why God dealt with Abraham as he did and recorded Abraham’s story for us—to encourage our anxious waiting hearts and show us what walking by faith looks like.

In Genesis 12, Abram (as he was called then) is already seventy-five years old. And God promises to make him a great nation that would bless all the families of the earth and to give his offspring the land of the Canaanites. However, Abram has no offspring. His wife, Sarai, is barren.

Time goes by. No child. So Abram prudently plans to make his servant, Eliezer of Damascus, his heir. But God says, “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir” (Gen. 15:4). Then he takes Abram out and shows him the night sky and tells him that his offspring will be so numerous it would be like counting stars. But in the tent it’s still just Abram and Sarai.

More time goes by. Sarai gets desperate. Despite what her husband thinks God has told him, she can’t conceive. Shewants a child. She’s done waiting. So she devises a solution: her maidservant, Hagar, could be a surrogate child-bearer for her. This sounds plausible to the eighty-six year-old Abram. But Abram did not consult God on this idea. Not wise. The solution backfires big-time.

Thirteen more years go by before God finally tells the ninety-nine year-old Abram that eighty-nine year-old Sarai will bear a son. This is (almost) unbelievable news. Both respond with the equivalent of “No way!” But God says “Yes way!” and changes their names to Abraham (father of a multitude) and Sarah (princess). A year later Isaac is born.

Twenty-five years of waiting and no earthly reason to hope for a child. Their only hope was a promise from God. And that’s exactly how God wants his children to live: by faith in future grace—the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1).

Learning to walk by faith and not sight is hard. It was hard for Abraham and Sarah. It is hard for all of us. God designed it that way. It is his process of mercifully weaning us off of self-sufficient delusion and letting us taste the joy of what it means to hope in him alone. Learning to patiently trust a promise from God develops our capacity to really hope in eternal life. We learn not to trust our perceptions or emotions but God’s promises. And over time the unseen reality of heaven becomes more real to us. There is nothing like the experience of tasting hope when all looked hopeless to teach the soul that the death we fear is not the end.

Because I’m impatient, which is to say I’m selfish and prone to believe that my will ought to be sovereign in the ordering and timing of events, I need encouragement to “hold fast the confession of my hope without wavering” (Heb 10:23). So I just finished listening twice to John Piper’s message, “Battling the Unbelief of Impatience.” One of the things he said that rings in my ears is,

The opposite of impatience is a deepening, sweetening willingness to stand in the place that God has appointed or to move at the pace that God has appointed… to stand in God’s place or go at his pace.

God often moves at a slower pace than we want him to move. I desire a “deepening, sweetening willingness to stand in his place or go at his pace.” And I found John’s message very helpful in fighting my impatience. I think you will be helped by it, too.

Trusting God is part of what it means to be satisfied in him. So at Desiring God our mission is to encourage you to put your full trust in him, because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The world is screaming out messages of hopelessness and offers of false hope. That’s why we are making the resources we produce as accessible, portable, transferable, and economical as possible. We want the house of your faith built on the rock of the unshakable promises of God.

In closing, please remember that we are largely supported by the financial gifts of friends who appreciate the teaching of Desiring God and want others to receive the same kind of encouragement and help they have received personally through DG. If you could support us this month, we would be very grateful. Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

May God sustain you in your unique place of waiting and may you taste the joy that only comes from hoping in his steadfast love.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:5),

Jon Bloom
Executive Director