Scripture: And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. Genesis 16:2 ESV
Observation: As the narrative of Abram and Sarai continues, in chapter 15, Moses presents the account of Yahweh striking his unilateral covenant with Abram to provide a son from his own body who will further the line of his heirs that will be as numerous as the stars (15:1-5). And because Abram believed, the Lord credited it to him as righteousness (15:6). In addition, God reassured Abram that Canaan would be his people’s possession (15:7). Wanting confirmation, Abram asked for a sign. God then dramatically affirmed his covenant by passing between halved animal sacrifices as a smoking pot and flaming torch (symbolizing the self-inflicted consequences for failing to uphold his promises to Abram, 15:12-20).
Yet, for all that transpired, in the opening lines of the very next chapter, we read that Sarai and Abram waffled in their faith as time passed on without results. So they took matters into their own hands—perhaps assuming that since the covenant did not specify who the mother of Abram’s sons would be, that Hagar (Sarai’s servant) would bear the child as a surrogate mother. Regardless, once Hagar bore Abram a son, strife and heartache ensued, leading to Hagar and her son, Ishmael, striking out on their own.
Takeaway: It’s hard to be patient and wait on the Lord to show us the next steps. But there’s value in the waiting. In due time, and against all odds, elderly Sarai would bring Abram’s covenant son into the world. And this miracle child would remind his parents of their God’s faithfulness—a blessing memorialized in the perfect timing of the Lord. But when we take matters into our hands, we create unnecessary angst and heartache for ourselves and others. Still, our Father’s grace abounds. Like Abram and Sarai, our Lord does not give up on us and will guide us through the consequences of our impatient decisions and actions because he is a covenant keeper.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are a covenant keeper who is always faithful even when we are not. When you reveal to us your plan, would you please help us to resist taking control and wait on you to show us the next step patiently—and remind us along the way that there is value in the waiting? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling