FAITH: Do I Wait or Act?

BIBLE INSIGHTS in 500 words*


IN FAITH, Do I Wait or Act?
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.
Genesis 16:1

God promised Abraham a legacy and destiny (Genesis 12:1-3), but God delayed for years (Genesis 15:1). God gave the promise again (Genesis 15:4).   Again, a long delay followed the promise, “Despite God’s promise, years went by. Still, Abram’s wife Sarai remained childless” (Genesis 16:1, The Voice)

Can you distinguish the difference between a delayed promise and a broken promise? When you anxiously wait for someone to keep a promise, it is difficult to discern the difference between a enduring a delay and being abandoned.

We live in an age of shallow and thoughtless promises. Imagine you have been promised a job. You quit the job you have only to discover that the job you were promised did not materialize or, worse, the job was given to someone else. Broken promises generate pain, anger, and a threat to our identity.

Let me tell you of a child I know who lives under a broken promise. She was only 12 when her daddy fell out of the attic and was rushed to the hospital. In the waiting room, surrounded by family and friends, everyone wanted to ease her fear and suffering. People offered words of comfort and promised, “I know your dad is going to be okay.” Her daddy died.

Some weeks later, in a quiet moment, the two of us were talking about what had happened. With as determined a look as a 12-year-old can conjure, she asserted, “They said my daddy would okay. He died. It was not right for them to promise me.”

Wait or Act? From the perspective of Abraham and Sarah, the thought that God forgot his promise must have drifted through their minds. From our perspective, we know that God did not break his promise to Abraham and Sarah; he delayed for years. Imagine the anxiety for this elderly couple. As each year passes, the possibility of having a child decreases. God promised, but nothing happens.

Abraham and Sarah faced a dilemma we understand.

Do we wait for God to act
do we act in order to bring about God’s plan?

How do you know when to wait or when to act? Both can be expressions of genuine faith. Either can be a means of trusting God or taking over for God. To wait can be a means of frustrating God’s plans. To act can be a method of getting ahead of God’s plans.

How do you discern if it is best to wait or to act? Breathe, think, pray, counsel and reflect on these questions:

  • ASK: What will happen if I wait or if I act?
  • ASK: Am I willing to accept the consequences of my choice?
  • ASK: What is my true motive for waiting or for acting?
  • ASK: Will I trust God completely with my decision?

How would Sarah and Abraham have answered these questions? How do you answer these questions as you face your decision?


*Most people read about 200 words per minute; this article is 497 words.


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