We’ve heard it said time after time, “God’s timing is not our own.” The statement may be cliché, but nevertheless, it consistently proves itself to be true. In the high-speed world we inhabit, it may even seem that God is downright slow, tarrying far behind in speed compared to my Google search that just provided 8.6 million results in less than a second. But, in contrast, wouldn’t it make sense for the Ancient of Days to do things a bit more slowly? Wouldn’t the eternal God (who is sovereign over time itself) be likely to do things at his own pace?
This is a lesson that Abraham and Sarah had to learn the hard way. Granted, they weren’t spoiled by the speed of the modern world, yet they still endured a time of waiting and anticipation most of us can hardly fathom. Between the time that God calls Abraham and first promises to make his lineage into a great nation (Gen 12:1-4), and the time Isaac is born (21:1-5), a long and discouraging 25 years pass. It was so discouraging that Abraham and Sarah even attempted to take the situation into their own hands (16:1-16), leading to only more strife, hurt, and despair for all parties involved. I can sympathize here. If I had been given a promise that would take 25 years to come to fruition, I would be inclined to disbelief as well. I would be tempted to try and fulfill the promise myself and satisfy my own desires too.
However, the story is not built around Abraham and Sarah’s waxing and waning trust. It is built around God’s enduring presence. When hope seems lost, God shows up. When Abraham’s faith is shaky, God is there. When Sarah can no longer fathom the outlandish promise, God is near. And, when God shows up in all of these situations, He comes with the same message and affirmation of the promise, “I have spoken, and it will be so.”
A beautiful truth from this story is that the enduring presence of God that was there for Abraham and Sarah is the same enduring presence that is near to us. God is truly with us. Despite life and the woes it brings, He is there. Amidst the trials and sufferings of our world, God is present. And, although the manifold witness of reality often screams in our face that God is not there, the Lord is still near. However subtle His presence may be, it is there, abiding near to us in love. So, as we continue on in this Christmas season, let us be reminded that God’s presence endures, persistently near to us in every moment. This season, let none of us fail to remember the Lord whose enduring presence is nearer to us than our very own breath.