Seasons of Waiting

[God] brought [Abraham] outside and He said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:5-6)

If our faith is to remain steadfast in seasons of prolonged waiting, then we must be confident of these truths: first, that God has the power to do what He promised to do; and second, that God Himself is sufficient to meet all of our needs, in every season.

Abraham’s faith was tested in the waiting room of life. For years he lived in a foreign land, waiting for his “very own son” to come into the world as God had promised (Genesis 15:4). And it was his trust in God’s promises while he waited that God “counted … to him as righteousness.”

Paul, when he writes of Abraham’s faith during this time, says, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). In other words, Abraham believed that nothing and no one could stand in the way of God fulfilling His spoken word—even when he could not begin to see how God would keep His promises. His faith wasn’t a blind leap in the dark. Rather, it was a belief based on God’s character.

Fast-forward to today, and one of the great promises to which we cling is that the Lord Jesus has promised to prepare a place for us and that He will come to take us to Himself (John 14:3). Therefore, when we take Him at His word, we are filled with the hope of heaven. We can be certain beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus is coming back personally, He is coming back visibly, and He is coming back for His own. These promises to us are as sure as the promise God made to Abraham, for which he waited 25 years before it was fulfilled.

Furthermore, through Abraham’s experience we see that it is God alone who is sufficient to bring us through seasons of waiting. In Genesis 17, God appears once more to Abraham in order to strengthen his faith. How? By revealing who He is: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty [El-Shaddai]; walk before me’” (17:1). This Hebrew term, El-Shaddai, can mean “God who is sufficient.” God, in other words, affirmed His promises to Abraham on the strength of His character.

The Christian life is a life of waiting. And all of God’s “hold ons” and “not yets” are part and parcel of His purpose. Every season of waiting is an opportunity for you to take God at His word. And while you wait, you can surely trust Him to meet your every need. Rest in this: the God in whom you believe is able to do all that He has promised.

Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life Daily Devotional by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

A Word to Husbands

By God’s grace, every Christian marriage is about more than marriage.Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (Ephesians 5:25-26)

The purpose of human marriage is to point away from itself to the ultimate marriage made in heaven: that of Christ, the Bridegroom, and the church, His bride. Marriage, in other words, is about God’s ultimate purpose “to unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). This is why Paul offers specific instructions for husbands: so that their marriages might display the union God intends.

In marriage, the husband’s primary objective is not to make sure his wife is physically and emotionally sustained. That is part of it, of course—but his ultimate objective should be that his wife will be prepared to meet Jesus. 

To that end, the word that Paul uses for “love” here, agape, is important: it expresses self-sacrifice and self-abasement. It’s about what we give, not what we get. It’s about what we owe, not what we’re due. It’s not about seeking what’s good for you; it’s about giving yourself up for what’s truly good for your wife, so that she might be “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). This was the purpose for which Christ gave His life for His church; and, as a picture of this, it is what a husband is to give himself up for and pursue for his wife. 

But if you are a husband, how do you love in this way in the day-to-day reality of life? One practical step is to look for the absence of “NAG-ing”. That is, you must renounce neglect, physically, emotionally, and spiritually—and, if career, club, or church responsibilities interfere, you may need to re-evaluate your commitments. You also need to renounce abuse, which, while including more egregious sins, also encompasses belittling your wife, talking down to her, treating her with disregard, or acting as if she’s really fortunate to be married to you. And finally, you need to ensure you never take your marriage for granted, which can become so easy as time goes by.

Yet as helpful as such practical reminders are, the ultimate yardstick for, and motivation to, love is the cross-shaped love of Christ for His bride. Without a clear view of how Jesus loves His church, our best intentions will flounder, and our failures will crush us. So we must look to Christ, who, although He needed no one and nothing, came and gave Himself up in order that we, in our need, rebellion, and emptiness, may be caught up in His embrace, welcomed into His heart, brought into His family, and considered a part of His bride.

Do you find yourself saying, “Why would He ever love me like that?” If so, you see what a high calling it is for husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church.” So if you are a husband, or hope to be one day, it must start with prayer: prayer that the Holy Spirit will enable you to think biblically, live obediently, and truly love selflessly. And if you are a wife, or hope to be one day, this should likewise be your prayer for your husband, for the sake of your joy and his, but most of all for God’s glory.

Devotional material is taken from Truth For Life Daily Devotional by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company. Used by Truth For Life with written permission.