This morning I was reading about Sarah in Genesis. I read the story in chapter 18 about the three visitors that came to visit Abraham and Sarah (one of them was the Lord), and told Abraham that Sarah would have a son by the following year. I can picture Sarah’s burst of laughter at the ridiculousness of it all and maybe even a little bitterness at the suggestion of something that she had longed for for decades.
As I pondered Sarah’s situation, something occurred to me. Though God did give her the promised son when she was past 90, might it have been a little anticlimactic for Sarah after enduring years of painful, unmet desire for a child? I mean, yes, God kept His promise, and Sarah eventually held that baby in her arms, but she was already an old woman.
I wonder if her joy was mixed with a certain wistfulness for what wasn’t. Did she ask: Why not sooner, Lord?
I felt something similar when I finally met the man I would marry — and then married him. I was fully aware that Kevin was a specific gift from God to me. And the joy of having waited for God to bring me something so wonderful was overwhelming. I would not have traded it for any other story. Still, there was a small part of me that wondered, Why not sooner, Lord? I would have loved to be a young wife and mother. I would have liked to be younger than 50 when my first child graduates high school. (And I understand my complaints seem silly compared to those of a single woman past child-bearing age who desires children, or an infertile couple.)
But then Scripture never says that promises and answered prayers are designed for human happiness — though they certainly bring it. The answers come — the promise is delivered — when the timing is right according to God’s perfect plan, not before. Think about the greatest promise ever delivered, Jesus Christ. Galatians says: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (4:4-5).
“Fully come,” “full rights.” Fullness is part of the equation. God had the power to answer my prayer at a different time in a different way, but waiting on His timing brought a “full” experience I could never have imagined. And in that sense, no answered prayer is ever anticlimactic. Each one is a touch from God. And the best ones are those that bring God the most glory.