Taking matters into our own hands seldom works well.

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Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 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. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Behold, you are pregnant
and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
his hand against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered. – Genesis 16:1-14

Iris in a Field of Green | Coupeville, Washington | May 2021

I know you said trust me, but I gave up hope that you would come through. So I acted on my own.

Yes, it’s true, it would have been better had I kept my hope alive, but I just lost hope and gave up on your help. 

I didn’t think you were coming, so I went ahead without you.

Those are the statements we’ve all either stated, or that represent things we’ve all done. We don’t trust others so  we take care of things ourselves. We’ve lost hope and despaired of relief. We’ve not been willing to wait and struck out on our own.

It’s the stuff of fallen sinful people – even those who have been redeemed. Even those who have heard directly from God! Even the father of faith, our friend Abram. He is not willing to trust, wait, and hope any longer in God’s ways and promises. So he takes matters into his own hands. The outcome is not good. Hagar becomes a means to an end, and a poor and discarded means at that.

Sarai is not seeing the promises of God come to pass. It’s been a long time since God’s original promise to Abram. It will be 13 years longer before the child of promise is actually born. Living in patient hope and trust is essential. But it is short supply here.

There are many times that advice from a godly wife has helped a husband along the path of faithful obedience and wise decisions. I, personally, have benefitted greatly from the wisdom and godly isights of Diane. She is a blessing to me! 

Sadly, however, this is not the case here with Sarai and Abram. Sarai seems to have instigated this idea of a surrogate mother for the child of promise. She gave Abram permission and encouragement to take things into his own hands. And he did not resist. 

Abram could have said, “We’ve been at this for a while. We learned a bit in Egypt. God just recently reiterated his promise to me. We can wait.” But he didn’t. 

He could have said, “Let’s not leave God out of this story. Let’s trust him and not lose hope for a child to be born to us, just as he promised.” But he didn’t.

Instead, Abram simply took Hagar and conceived a child with her. This was not the child of promise. This was not the path of God. This was not going to be the fulfillment of God’s promise. This would be only a child. And a cause for resentment. And the beginning of a lineage that is not of God’s choosing. 

Thank God there is a bigger story unfolding here. For the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram is in Jesus. He died for the sins of the whole world, and then commanded that his followers make disciples of all nations. The promise to Abram is not fully realized in the nation of Israel, but in those from every tribe, nation, and tongue, who believe the promises of God in Jesus (cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 7:9-12; Galatians 3:7).

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