It seemed like it had been many years since the day Sarai’s husband had heard the voice of God and looked up to count the stars. Each day that passed meant that the couple was another day older. Another day beyond child-bearing years. Another day further from the possibility of having their own family. The desire to have a baby ate at Sarai’s soul like a worm burrows into and consumes an apple. From Sarai’s vantage point, it was clear that God had missed his opportunity.
Sometimes I feel that way too.
I imagine that Sarai was just trying to help God out. God had made a promise, and yet, still there was no child. So, could it be that Sarai’s servant could bear the promised baby? Perhaps if Sarai encouraged Abram to take her servant as his wife, perhaps then Abram would gain the descendants that God had promised. Perhaps then God’s promise could be fulfilled, and Sarai would have had a hand in helping God out.
The idea sounded alright to Abram. It had been so many years since God had spoken with Abram about Abram’s becoming a father, the words were but an echo in his head instead of a reality. On that night so long ago, well, ten years really, Abram had been so sure of God. In fact, Abram had believed him. And God had seen his heart and credited Abram’s belief as righteousness. God’s word made His work as good as done.
But what had happened? Time passed. Fears and doubts plagued Abram’s mind. Instead of believing God, he listened to Sarai. What proceeded didn’t really go according to plan. Granted Hagar, who was Abram’s new wife and Sarai’s servant, did bear a child. But things got all messy. Hagar looked on Sarai with contempt. Sarai became angry with Abram. Abram now had two enraged wives – and that hadn’t really been what he had imagined on that night in the desert when he had spoken with God.
However, God didn’t leave Abram there in the mess. Not long after a son was born to Hagar, God again spoke to Abram – but this time God made it very clear that it was not Hagar that would bear the son whom has been promised to Abram, but indeed it would be Sarai. Just in case Abram and Sarai are tempted to forget, this time God changed their names so that even in their day-to-day life they are reminded. Abraham and Sarah. The mother and father of many nations. And then God moved. Somehow a woman in her nineties became pregnant and delivered a child.
The truth is God didn’t need Sarah or Abraham’s help. He had a plan and a promise. Abraham needed only to believe.
The good news is that just as God found Abraham in his mess, so too He finds us in our chaos. And we need only believe. We need only to trust that what God says He will do is as good as done. He doesn’t need us to accomplish His work, but He chooses us to come alongside and enjoy watching Him do His work.
“Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
May these words be true of us, too.