On the Side - October 2017
by Carol Mason Shrader
Waiting might possibly be my least favorite activity. Seriously. I keep a bag in my van with yarn and a book—I can crochet and watch softball practice simultaneously, I can read and wait for theater rehearsals to end. And just in case I forget my handy-dandy bag o’ activities, I keep a large myriad of Words with Friends games going at all times so that I KNOW I can always play while I wait.
I am not even exaggerating. I really, really do not like waiting.
As medical wives, we spend a lot of our lives in a holding pattern—waiting. We wait for medical school to be behind us. We wait for the hard residency rotations to end. We wait for our guy to come home in the wee hours of the morning. We wait and we wait and we wait.
And friends, there isn’t enough yarn to help us through that.
We have been talking about Sarah and Abraham in our Side By Side – Jackson. I can’t help but think Sarah and I would have been fast friends. I so understand her.
For years God had been speaking to her husband. God repeatedly told Abraham he would be a great nation. God told him his offspring would inherit the land. God assured him his heir would be Abraham’s own flesh and blood, a son (Genesis 12,15).
Can you imagine? Repeatedly, Abraham is hearing about all these children he will have, and yet, in her 80s, Sarah had not borne him a single child. Not one.
I connect so much with her frustration. I can feel the angst that must have been wreaking havoc in her emotions. She had not just been waiting for years—she had been waiting for decades. And nothing.
No doubt she felt like she was letting Abraham down. Oh, in hindsight—with the benefit of Scripture in front of us—we can be quick to judge Sarah. She should have been more dependent on God’s timing. She should have waited. Patience, Sarah.
But Sarah didn’t have the benefit of knowing the whole picture. She simply knew that God told her husband he would be a great nation and SHE had failed to give him one heir. I can feel her panic. I can sympathize with her need to “help” God with His plan. Seriously, my brain churns constantly with ways to help God. Sigh.
Please give Sarah grace here. I am fairly certain she was telling herself things like, “If he hadn’t married me….” And there is agony in that. She thought perhaps she could help Abraham reach his full potential that God has set before him. She thought no doubt she could fix it.
“...Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Genesis 16:2, NIV 1984).
I read so much desperation there. I read impatience and just flat out exhaustion from all the waiting.
And oh the consequences of her inability to wait are heavy. I imagine physical pain as she endured knowing Hagar would have her husband’s child.
God didn’t hold back in His next conversation—He flat out told Abraham the child would be Sarah’s. Can you imagine how she must have felt? Anticipation. Fear. Regret.
Hagar’s baby would be 13 before Sarah would become pregnant with Isaac. That is almost another decade and a half of waiting for Sarah. That is a long, long time to wait. I really want to give her a hug.
“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him” (Genesis 21:1-2, NIV 1984).
But here is the thing: God was faithful AND—despite what Sarah must have thought—that verse assures us God is PUNCTUAL. At the very time God had promised.
And so today, as I fill my bag with more yarn—because even after all the training, we are in the midst of yet another waiting season—I am reminded by Sarah that I have to rest in the knowledge that God is punctual. I have to rest in the knowledge that God does not require me to “help” Him. He is faithful to keep His word.
And I am encouraged by a woman who laughed when she finally was able to nurse a baby in her 90s.
Hang in there, dear ones. God does not require our help, nor does He show up late.
Blessings in whatever waiting season you are facing,
Carol M. Shrader
Carol Mason Shrader lives in Mississippi with her wonderful Wade, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and an adorable 11-year-old who likes to play all the sports and perform in all the things and ensure that she will be keeping everyone warm and cozy with crochet gifts for decades to come. Her 20-year-old triplets are gracious in accepting all college care packages of yarn crafts with a smile. And still she has much to learn about waiting on the Lord.