Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)
God appeared Abram, and encouraged him, not once, but multiple times. Each time, God re-enforced His promise to Abram. In fact, for each occasion, God made Abram continue trusting God and believing God’s promise. We all know Abram tried to make God’s promise come true by his own logic and rationale. Bible describes after the last encounter with God, Abram did not make any further attempts to bring his own plan to God.
By the way, we are also guilty on this regard. How many times have we hear our own mind, and use our own might to make God’s plan come true rather than waiting for God’s hand and time? Controlling one’s own mind is really hard. Bible tells “anyone who has control of his spirit is better than someone who captures a city.” (Proverb 16:32b) We all know that we need God’s help to battle against our own mind, which is easily driven by what we see and hear. With the help from God, Abram was able to rule over his mind, and continued his journey with God following God’s promise. Yes, Abram could not see and touch any hints or evidences that God’s promise would come true in foreseeable future.
In fact, Sarai, Abram’s wife, was also under an extreme pressure of not having a baby. She had been enduring with Abram. Although Sarai did not say anything, her heart was getting heavier and heavier day by day. Sarai could not be silent any longer. Thus, she opened up her heart, and said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” (Genesis 16:2) Sure. We can understand Sarai’s pain. She tried everything to have a baby, but she could not have a baby. Finally, with her own words, she said “God has prevented me from having a baby.”
It was not easy for Sarai tell this. Sarai struggled and gave deep thoughts many times while searching for an answer. Her husband received God’s promise that his descendants would be extremely many like the stars on a clear night sky. Surely, every night, she also looked up the countlessly many stars. She also knew she could not have a baby. This was her daily struggle. She was even afraid to see stars on a clear night. For her, a rainy day was a good day because she could not see the bothering stars. Especially, after the last debate with God, Abram completely believed God’s promise without any doubts. All of the pressure of not having a child now came upon her.
Sarai also was a good wife. Sarai always wanted to be a true helper to Abram, and she actually was. Although Abram was keeping his faith, she saw Abram’s struggles. She concerned about how long Abram really held his faith because the reality was completely opposite. As a good wife, she always looked around her to find a way to get out of this difficult situation.
One day, her eyes spot a beautiful, young, and strong Egyptian servant named Hagar. Sure, Hagar was with her long time, but her mind did not connect Hagar with her paramount problem and concern. That day suddenly Sarai’s heart told her that Hagar was the answer. If Hagar could give a birth to a male child, certainly the child would be strong enough to be a man who could start a great nation. For a while, she did not talk about this. She also knew how Abram would respond -- Abram’s disapproval. She waited and waited an opportunity to tell her story to Abram. One day, she found Abram, who was particularly down. He was looking at kids playing with an eye of envy because Abram did not have his own son. She saw and felt Abram’s struggle.
Thus, she approached Abram, and told her plan. Surprisingly Abram quickly agreed with Sarai’s proposal. (Abram was really vulnerable at that time.) That night, Sarai, Abram’s wife, brought Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave to Abram. This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan following God’s promise. All the years, Abram trusted God, but it was the moment that Abram was vulnerable, and he quickly made a concession with his wife (in reality, with his own troubling mind.) He chose his wife, and agreed with her logically tempting proposal.
Believing God’s promise is not easy. Overcoming all kinds of internal voice of skepticism and doubts is really harder. So far, through God’s help, Abram was able to keep his faith and overcome his inner voice of doubts and skepticism. On top of this battle, Abram had to fight against a severe temptation that came from his own wife whom he always loved, and trusted for many years. When Sarai, such a faithful wife, touched on Abram’s heart with a tempting voice, Abram’s heart melt like an ice under a hot summer day. Abram could not resist, but drink the sweetness of the temptation from his wife. He took a part of his wife’s plan, and agreed to make a baby.
Abram was telling to himself. Yes, waiting for a baby from his barren wife was illogical and even stupid. His heart also suddenly was filled with all of the jokes made by his friends, “How in the world, can a barren wife have a baby? Wake up. You are just dreaming. Get real. You still believe you will have a baby. You clearly know your wife is barren.” Abram quickly looked back his last ten years. He fought against doubts in faith, but nothing had happened. He had a scar of not having a son. His heart continuously questioned, “where is my son who will make my descendants numerous like the star on a night sky?” He knew he could not talk to God anymore either. He vividly remembered what happened when he approached God with his logical plan, but God immediately rejected his plan. Instead, God made him convinced so that he believe again the promise. As his heart was comforted and became calm, he restored his faith in God again. Then he heard God’s loving voice: “You are righteous because you believe me.” How could he go back to God and tell something different from what God wanted? He told to himself. No more. (Of course, this is not true. God is always faithful to us. Remember that God has no rotating shadow. He will not change no matter what we think and/or do. God always wants for us to come to Him. Why? God loves us, not because we do God’s will, but because we are simply His children. Nobody in the world ever existed lived out perfectly God’s will. We are like sheep. All go astray. However, God’s merciful hand stretches out, grab us, and bring to His bosom in His love)
Yes, Abram heard his wife, and sinned. By the way, this is not the first example written in Bible. Adam sinned because he heard his wife, Eve. Adam knew God’s command, but he was tempted by what was offered by his wife. Yes, it was really difficult to refuse the delicious temptation coming to him through Eve. Please think about how difficult for us to refuse, if our own trusting spouse or one whom we most trust on earth offers a solution to the problem that we struggle about for a long time: ten years or more. Additionally, we know that the solution surely works.
Hagar bore a son. Both Abram and Sarai expected happiness. However, soon Hagar’s son became the major source of trouble in Abram’s family. Hagar started looking down on Sarai, Abram’s wife and her mistress. Hagar’s son brought an unexpected pain that was even greater than what they had. Sarai complaint to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The LORD will show who’s wrong—you or me!” (Genesis 16:5) His wife, such a wonderful wife, for the first time, complained to Abram. Sarai blamed Abram.
What can we learn from Abram and Sarai? We need to trust God, and continue believing in Him and His promise. Surely, there will be an occasion that doubts from the deepest part of our heart ooze out. We hear a tempting story from one whom we trust most on earth. Then what can we do? There is only one answer: we need to fix our own eyes on Jesus, and continue walking the walk given to us. Yes, things around us on earth are so real to us. We can touch and feel the things on earth with our hands. We also know their existence on earth is not forever either. They will fade away. Yes, let’s fix our eyes on the things on the above, and hear the voice of Holy Spirit in our heart. When we are in doubts, confusion and temptation, please remind that Holy Spirit is in our heart, who intercedes us with inexpressible groaning to God. God surly guides those who are faithful in Him through the paths of righteous.
Let’s praise God, whose mercy endures forever!
Sing praise to God, whose love endures forever!
Give our heart to God, who is full of grace and mercy.
He is Our God, Our Ever-Loving Father.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13)