April 18 I Sunday
2 Samuel 3-5
“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar.” —Genesis 16:1
The Lord not only affirmed His promise to Abram for a fourth time, but He also specifically revealed that the child would come from Abram’s own flesh, and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. As we read of God’s promises to Abram in Genesis, we can become amazed by the mighty work of the Lord and His plans for Abram and his descendants. Yet, have we wondered what was going on in Abram’s wife Sarai’s mind? Probably when Abram first shared with her the news of the Lord making him into a great nation with many descendants, she felt great joy with much anticipation. Finally, she was going to have a child! But as the years and even decades went by, God’s promise did not come to pass and Sarai remained barren.
Over time, Sarai no longer shared that same excitement with Abram, as the lack of the promise’s fulfillment reminded her of her inability to bear a child, which became her source of pain and shame. We get a glimpse into Sarai’s heart as the first words recorded from her in Scripture said, “The LORD has kept me from having children” (Genesis 16:2). Sarai was essentially blaming God, that it was His fault she did not have children; He was the one withholding it from her.
We do not find Sarai worshipping or seeking God in her times of disappointment. Instead, in Sarai’s troubles, she turned to “Egypt.” Just a few chapters before in Genesis 12, when a famine was in the land, Abram and Sarai went to Egypt for their resources instead of staying in Canaan and trusting in El Shaddai, the God over everything. During their first loop of disobedience, someone followed them back from Egypt––Hagar. Hence, when faced with her own inability, Sarai turned to conventional wisdom and told Abram, “Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Genesis 16:2).
In Old Testament times, it was culturally appropriate if a wife could not have children that one of her slaves would have children on her behalf and they would be reckoned as her own. Without consulting God, Sarai assumed this cultural practice was God’s way of fulfilling His promise. In Sarai’s pain and shame, she turned to what she could do in her own power, and not El Shaddai’s. What this text reminds us of is to beware of reaching out for something that God had not yet permitted or handed to us, and taking matters into our own hands.
In our times of hurting and disappointment, may we turn to God and trust in His strength and His resources.
Prayer: Dear God Almighty, it is so easy to take matters into my own hands during times of hurt and disappointment. Point my heart towards You during these times, trusting in Your strength and Your resources. Thank You, God.