“Why does God take forever to answer our prayers?” That’s a question most of us keep asking, especially when we immerse ourselves in incessant praying… and fasting… and alms giving…. To be honest, it gets really frustrating when one feels they’ve given it their all, and there is nothing to show for it.
Well, technically, God is always answering our prayers. In a previous post, ‘Why God will say NO’, I talked about the answers God gives us when we pray: it could be ‘YES’, ‘NO’, or ‘WAIT’. In my thinking, it’s the two latter responses that seem to trouble most of us, because it is hard to know when God is denying us our fervent requests, for reasons best known to Him; and when He’s telling us ‘Yes, but you’ll have to wait”.
From my own experience, I know it’s extremely hard to wait for something when it feels like one’s survival/happiness depends on whatever it is they’re waiting for. It is even worse, when one’s required to wait, not just for a couple of days or months, but for years!
For instance, I have read stories of married women, who waited for close to a decade or more, to receive their little bundles of joy. I’m just imagining how hard it is for someone to wait that long, when they have nagging in-laws, who think only a woman’s health issues could contribute to childlessness; or, those who erroneously tie a woman’s fertility to their ability to be a good wife.
Recently in church we read about the Biblical story of Sarah. In Genesis 18: 1-15, we’re told about how the Lord promised Abraham a son. God appeared to him in the form of three men (I’m assuming that was the Holy Trinity), and one of them told Abraham, “Nine months from now I will come back, and your wife Sarah will have a son”.
Sarah, who at the time was hiding behind their tent’s door overheard, and she laughed. I’m thinking she thought that was utterly ridiculous seeing as she and Abraham were very old, and she had even reached menopause. In Genesis 11: 27-29, the descendants of Terah, the father of Abraham (at the time called Abram) are listed; and in verse 30 it’s written, ‘Sarai (Sarah) was not able to have children’. In short, she’d already been written off as barren.
When the Lord heard Sarah laughing, He asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Can I really have a child when I’m so old’? Is anything too hard for the Lord? As I said, nine months from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son”. Sarah had thought getting a child in her old age was impossible, and arguably so; but just as the Lord had promised, she bore Abraham a son when he was one hundred years old.
After the birth of Isaac (Genesis 21: 1-8), Sarah laughed again; this time round not out of cynicism, but out of sheer joy. What she had thought was impossible, had come to pass! “Everyone who hears about it will laugh with me,” she said. “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have a borne him a son in his old age”.
Sarah’s initial scepticism isn’t hard to understand. She was old, and though someone might argue those were the Biblical years that had Methuselah (the oldest human being), living to nine hundred and sixty nine years, I’d like to point out that in Genesis 6:3 God had already capped man’s mortality at one hundred and twenty years.
To buttress the same, in Genesis 23: 1, Sarah died at the age of one hundred and twenty seven, whereas Abraham died ‘at the ripe old age’ of one hundred and seventy five (Genesis 25: 7-8). So yes, for the avoidance of doubt, Sarah and Abraham were very old when Isaac was born.
Sarah’s story is one of great encouragement. That no matter how much we feel the odds are stacked against us, we should not get discouraged; therefore we shouldn’t stop praying. We should remember that God’s power is limitless; He makes a way, where there is none; because He is a God of impossibilities.