Forcing the promise

Date: Wednesday, May 28

ScriptureGenesis 16:1-16

VerseSarai said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from giving birth, so go to my servant. Maybe she will provide me with children.” Abram did just as Sarai said. (Genesis 16:2)

waitingWaiting. I’m not good at it. I want the fastest computer hooked up to the fastest internet connection. I want to be able to make all my food in the microwave, and my cup of coffee from the fastest brewer. If there is a line at the gas pump, I will likely decide to go to the next station. I also don’t want to wait for the next elliptical at the gym, and will choose to get on a treadmill or bike instead. We don’t like to wait. We want results as soon as possible. Quicker, we think, is always better.

Abram and Sarai (later renamed Abraham and Sarah) have been patient. For 10 years they have been waiting for God to fulfill his promise to Abram that he would be the father of a great nation. But nothing has happened, and their biological clocks are ticking louder every day. Both are in their eighties. Who can expect to have a child when they are in their 80s? So they wonder if they haven’t misunderstood God. Maybe he meant something else. They have grown impatient, and decide to take matters into their own hands. Rather than listening to God, we are told “Abram did just as Sarai said.” He gets Sarai’s servant Hagar pregnant. Problem solved. Right?

Take away the cultural differences that make this decision offensive to us (and Abram and Sarai’s decision to treat Hagar harshly, which should also offend us) and what is left is a disobedience to God with which we can relate. In brutally honest moments, many of us would confess we too have grown impatient with God and tried to force his hand. We have even tried to fulfill his promises ourselves. Some of us have made bad financial decisions. Others have taken the wrong job, or stayed too long at the one they have. Some have lost relationships over decisions of impatience. Waiting is hard, and even harder when we are waiting on God. But God calls us to be patient, to wait for his perfect timing. Later, God will come through for Abraham and Sarah, but now he is left to pick up the pieces, and people have been deeply hurt in the process.

Prayer: Grant me patience, O God, to wait on your perfect timing. Amen.

Action: Test your patience today — choose the longest line, make a slow-cooked meal, or something else. Then use the waiting time to connect with God or others.

Respond: When has your patience paid off? Or when has your impatience messed things up?

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About Joe Iovino

Christian, husband & father, Associate Pastor in Monument CO, guitar player, motorcyclist, Mets fan.
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