You know those long genealogy lists in the Bible? The ones we tend to skim over, wondering why they’re even there? Well, they’re not there for nothing.
Earlier this year, my Bible reading plan had me in the book of Genesis. Genesis starts by telling the creation story, but then when you get to Chapter 5 you run face-first into a genealogy. Each genealogy in the Bible looks a little different, but this one goes something like this: when so-and-so had lived so many years, he fathered his son so-and-so, then lived so many more years. When his son so-and-so had lived so many years, he fathered his son so-and-so, and lived so many more years.
And so on, and so forth.
As I was reading through, I realized each person was around the same age when they started having kids (relatively speaking, keeping in mind people in those days lived to be hundreds and hundreds of years old). One guy was 130. Another 105. One was 90, another 70, one 65, one 162, one 187, one (blink) 182.
Until you get to Noah.
Noah is first introduced at the end of the genealogy in Genesis 5:32, and guess how many years old he was when he started having kids?
As many times as I’ve read this passage, this was the first time it caught my eye. I started to wonder…was it hard for Noah? Watching everyone around him receive the very thing I’m sure he longed for? Maybe not so much when he was around 100, but what about year 210? 355? 499? I wondered if he felt the pain of feeling like everyone else’s lives were progressing forward toward the things they wanted, when his wasn’t. I wondered if Noah ever felt forgotten by God.
Isn’t it funny how the pain points in our own lives open our eyes to the very details in Scripture that speak directly into them?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized Noah is not the anomaly. In fact, all of the key players in God’s story that unfolds throughout Scripture seem to not have life happen in the same timeline as everyone around them.
Take, for example, the wives of the three patriarch’s: Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Know what all three of them had in common? Barrenness. For years and years and years. Sarah laughed at the thought of having a baby, offering up her maidservant instead because she figured that blessing simply wasn’t for her. Rebekah’s husband prayed that she might conceive, because she hadn’t been able to. Rachel watched as her sister popped out baby after baby after baby, all the while begging God to give her one of her own.
It’s easy to brush over these stories because we forget they took a lot longer to live through than they take us to read through—and since we know how the story ends, we skip on ahead.
But let’s just sit here a moment.
Today, marriage and babies are natural desires for most women. But back in Bible times, babies weren’t just a desire, they were what brought women honor. To have a lot of children made a woman esteemed. To have none brought disgrace. Not only were Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel without the very thing they longed for, but to add insult to injury, their lack brought them shame.
They would have felt less-than, overlooked, passed-by, forgotten. Like God had good things for other people, but not for them.
Of course, if you keep reading the story, you see this simply isn’t true.
Rachel eventually had a baby, and the baby she waited all those years for was Joseph, the man who God used to save an entire nation. Sarah and Rebekah eventually had babies, and the babies they waited all those years for were Isaac and Jacob, two of the patriarchs, through whom eventually came the line of Jesus, who came to save the entire world.
The pattern persists with the other “forgotten” women of the Bible. There’s Hannah, who waited years and years for a baby while her sister Peninnah had baby after baby and maliciously mocked her. The baby she waited all those years for was Samuel—one of the greatest prophets in the pages of Scripture. The baby Elizabeth of the New Testament waited years and years for, was John the Baptist.
The point is, God wasn’t withholding from any of these women in their years of waiting. They were simply part of a bigger story He was still in the process of writing.
You see, there was an exact time in history Rachel’s baby Joseph had to come into the world to fulfill God’s purpose for him. There was an exact time in history Hannah’s baby Samuel had to come into the world to fulfill God’s purpose for him. Same for Sarah, Rebekah, and Elizabeth.
And there’s an exact time in history the events in your life need to unfold in order for you to fulfill God’s purpose for you.
I don’t know what area you feel forgotten in. Maybe you want to be a mother like the ladies in these stories. Maybe like me, it’s marriage your heart desires. Maybe you feel passed over for promotion after promotion, or its a sense purpose you desperately long for God to bring to your life.
I don’t know what area you feel forgotten in, but I do know that God hasn’t forgotten you, even when all your circumstances seem to say He has.
I know it’s hard when it seems like every single person around you is progressing in the ways you want. Since the start of this year alone, I’ve watched as my brother and sister-in-law brought their beautiful baby girl into the world, as best friends of mine have made pregnancy announcements for their first and second babies, and as the two remaining single ones among my closest friends have entered into relationships. Not to mention the countless posts from people in wider community circles who have made their exciting life announcements seemingly every day. I know what it’s like. I get it.
But I’ll tell you as I tell myself, it’s not happening for them and not for you because they earned it more. Nope. It’s not happening because they were ready and you’re not. Not true. The only reason I have to offer as to why it’s happening for them and not you in this moment, is that God answers prayer according to His perfect will, in His perfect timing. And while that may not seem incredibly encouraging, it should be—because it means He has a plan.
So keep hoping, keep praying, and most importantly, keep seeking His heart. There you will gain eyes to see the good He is already bringing about in your life, and faith to trust Him for what’s yet to come.
The cool thing about these Bible stories, is the same people who stood out because they were waiting when everyone around them was progressing, are the same people whose eventual answers to prayer stood out because they played special role in God’s story.
If Scripture is any indication, the very areas of our lives we feel forgotten by God in, are the very parts of our story He is going to use the most significantly in His.
Photos in this post courtesy of the talented Marisa Ruth Photography.
P.S. If a relationship is the area you’re feeling forgotten in right now, you can check out my online devotional below.
Hello I’m Kaci!
I love encouraging and discipling others in the Word of God, and I really love the One it all points to: Jesus.
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