Wilderness Day 8 The Empty Undoing
Read His Words Before Ours!
Longing. Waiting. Aching. Barren.
These are not words we think of when we begin following Jesus. We hear about new life, joy, and abundant life, and we are eager to experience them! Yet, in times of wilderness suffering God meets us, reminding us He is faithful and He keeps His promises.
Imagine you lived in the time of Abraham. You are a wife and expected by everyone in society to take care of your home, bearing and raising children. You wait, year after year, but your womb remains empty. How would you feel?
This is the condition in which we find Sarai in Genesis 11:30. In her culture, a woman who was unable to conceive was subject to shame and disgrace. Children were considered a blessing from God, as well as heirs to their father’s possessions.
In addition, God promised Abram his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Genesis 15:5) For Abram, with no street lights to dull the brightness of all the stars, this visual of God’s promise must have been stunning!
. . . And confounding.
How was this possible for a couple who were beyond child-bearing age?
Faced with this apparent impossibility, Sarai attempted to “help” God fulfill His promise by offering her slave girl, Hagar, to Abram, in order to build a family through her, which was a common practice at the time. (Genesis 16) However, Sarai’s plan only created more pain.
But God’s promise was still in place! He met again with Abram, reminding him that He would multiply his offspring through Sarai. As symbols of His promise, He changed their names to Abraham and Sarah. (Genesis 17:15-21) God promised He would bless her!
Overhearing God’s words, Sarah laughed. (Genesis 18:9-15) I imagine her muttering, “Yeah, like that’ll happen.” Yet, just as He promised, she conceived and gave birth to Isaac, who became the father of Jacob, later named Israel, who would become the father of a great nation. (Genesis 21:1-7)
Can you relate to Sarai’s story?
I’m sure we all can, as we experience difficult, wilderness seasons.
Maybe like Sarah, we long for a child.
Perhaps we’re in a situation where we thought God was giving a direction, but it sure isn’t working out like we planned.
I don’t know what you may be experiencing, but through my own wilderness wanderings, I have learned God is faithful and He keeps His promises.
After giving birth to our first daughter, I knew I wanted more children. I was sure I was made for motherhood, and enjoyed most moments (just being real here, moms!). But I had no idea how difficult it would be to conceive again.
After two years, and multiple negative pregnancy tests, I became discouraged. What was wrong with me? I thought I was a good mom with a happy child, and didn’t the Bible say children are a blessing? I prayed and prayed. I saw the doctor, and tried some medication, praying and hoping it would work.
It did not. The despair I felt was unlike any I’ve felt before, but in my wilderness, God met me. He reminded me that while it seemed He was far away, He was present with me in my excruciating pain. I did not get pregnant in the years following. But that moment of wilderness meeting will always stand out to me.
It would be several years before I would experience motherhood again with the adoption of our youngest daughter. We happily welcomed her into our family, and yet, I’ve also had some pretty sad moments, wishing we could grow our family more. I know the ache. But I also know the joy! In the midst of the struggle, God is so good to comfort and to show me how He has loved me through the years.
In my longing for a baby, I felt barren. Forgotten. However, the Holy Spirit reminded me I am not barren! In fact, God has given us an amazing legacy. Recently, my husband completed nearly 20 years of ministry in our church, and we spent some time in reflection. The Lord brought to mind the faces and names of so many students we have had the honor of knowing over the years.
I have had the privilege of walking through some really hard times with students, parents, and even leaders.
I have had the honor of listening to stories, both of pain and of celebration!
God is good! He knows our hearts and will accomplish His purposes. He is with us in wilderness seasons of sadness and doubt, walking beside us in comfort. Even if life doesn’t look exactly as I imagined, God has blessed me with an abundant life. He can be trusted to bring good out of suffering.
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Thanks for joining us today as we journeyed into Wilderness Week Two! Don’t miss out on the discussion below – we’d love to hear your thoughts!