Ier Jonathan Notes Top Story

The GOD of the long game

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Ier Jonathan

Text: Luke 1:5-25

Picture this: You and your spouse are very old. Possibly in your 70s. Both from a priestly family. You have carefully obeyed all of God’s commands and regulations all your life. And in God’s eyes, you are a righteous couple. And you are childless. Because the wife is unable to conceive. Then one fine day, everything changes! And we get a chance to learn anew about God and His amazing ways:

  1. God marks those who are careful to obey His commands and regulations.

Many people downplay the importance of knowing and obeying God’s commands today arguing that they are under God’s grace but those who are truly under His grace and truly love Him, like this couple, are careful to love Him by obeying Him. Let us pay attention to God’s commands and be careful to obey. He is honoured when we do this.

  1. God blesses in His way and according to His own timetable.

Not ours. Even though they were counted as righteous in God’s sight, God still did not bless them with children. For His own reasons. If this was today, especially in Nigeria, we would have all kinds of theories about how their enemies or village people have stopped them from having children (and yes, in those times, there was a lot of demonism and occult activity – remember the accusation that Jesus was performing miracles through Beelzebub, the prince of demons?). People may have speculated about how their sins from the past have blocked their blessing. The lack of certain blessings including children or even a spouse does not mean that God is not working in your life or He does not see you. Let us not rush to conclusions about our circumstances and why we don’t have a husband or a child or money or a job or a particular blessing. Only God truly knows why He withholds certain blessings from us and it is always, always to fulfil His own purposes.

  1. God does not forget our prayers,or give up, even when we have.
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He has a long memory. Gabriel, the angel God sent, told Zechariah, ‘God has heard your prayer.’ This prayer for a child must have been a long-standing prayer. It is not clear whether Zechariah had stopped praying for a child – I think that he might have (from verse 18 as he so rationally pointed out to Gabriel, ‘I’m an old man now’). I confess that I would have likely given up. But whether he had stopped or not, the prayer had been heard by God and God was working on it. Lesson: Keep praying for the desires of your heart. At the right time, when it aligns with God’s perfect will and purpose, you will receive your answer – and whatever the answer is – whether a ‘yes’, a ‘no’ or an ‘I will give you something else’, the answer will be just perfect for you.

In the face of withheld blessings what are we to do? Continue serving God faithfully. This is what Zechariah did. He did not seek his own solution (marry another wife or go to have a child with another woman – something many would have likely advised him to do – after all, he had no problems in that department, it was Elizabeth who was unable to conceive). Elizabeth did not take the Sarah path and seek a surrogate mother. What did they do? They continued to serve God.

If you are a husband and your wife is unable to conceive, I encourage you to continue to pray for your wife. Don’t leave it to her. Isaac prayed for his wife (see Genesis 25:21). Zechariah too prayed. And God heard. So, tempting as it may be, don’t take your eyes off God and go off to have other children with other women. Women, don’t go and look for a stud to give you a child. Or go to a babalawo. Those solutions bring nothing but long term sorrow and strife. We saw it with Abraham and Sarah. We see it in our families. God is into quality. Not quantity. And He is not in a hurry. His timetable is better than ours. He sees what we can never see. And He works to fulfil His purpose not ours. When we walk in step with Him though, He brings forth amazingly awesome things! Listen to the kind of blessing Zechariah and Elizabeth were to have after all the decades of waiting:

  1. They would have a son
  2. They would have great joy and gladness
  3. Many would rejoice at the birth of their son
  4. Their son would be great in the eyes of the Lord
  5. Their son would turn many Israelites to the Lord their God
  6. Their son would be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah
  7. Their son would turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children
  8. Their son would cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly
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God fulfilled His promise to Zechariah. Their son, John came. His ministry ended nearly 400 years of prophetic silence – and his ministry prepared the way for Jesus, the Lord.

Wow! God does not do anything by halves. He always goes out to bless wonderfully those who wait on Him and stay faithful. He is in the long-term game. He is not always a microwave God (although sometimes He will answer prayers instantly!). So whatever you have been praying for, for however many years, do not give up. If it is a job, do not take short cuts or try to cheat your way into one. Continue in righteousness and keep diligently seeking. God will answer with quality. If it is a spouse or child, keep praying and obeying God. Many of us have tried to take short cuts to get what we want and we have ended up with less than God’s best for us – for those who survived those short cuts at all. We are in it for the long haul with God. We are on a marathon, not a sprint. Keep at it. God will fulfil His word and His purpose. You can take that to the bank.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord for who You are. You are the God for the long run. And Your words never fail. Please grant that our desires are in accordance with Your will and Word. Please fulfil the purpose you have for us and give us patience and diligence as we wait on You. Amen.

  • Ier Jonathan-Ichaver is a Bible student, striving Jesus follower and social worker.

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