Chapter by Chapter - Genesis 16

     Patience is a virtue. Have you ever heard that phrase before? I'm sure you have and it's very true. We are a "want it now" society, are we not? The idea that you are promised something has a way to fester on the mind and bring about impatience. Imagine God telling you "I will bring you a wife and many children". Now imagine five years goes by and you still haven't met your future wife. You'll remember God made a promise to provide a wife for you but you'll begin to doubt it will ever happen. There's a good chance you will grow tired of waiting for God to keep His word and take the matter into your own hands. Our impatience can be a root cause for many of the troubles we face today. That's exactly what Abram and Sarai do in Chapter 16 of Genesis.

     Sarai waited and waited and still has not received the descendants God has promised her and Abram. Sarai is 75 years old and figures it hasn't happened yet, so God must have forgot or changed His mind. So, she decides to take drastic measures and take matters into her own hands. 

"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, 'The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.' Abram agreed to what Sarai said." - Genesis 16:1-2

     Can you believe what just happen? Sarai grew so impatient that she gives her husband another woman to sleep with. Its strange to think Sarai and Abram would be okay with this concept but you must know this was a common practice during Sarai's time. She wants a child so badly that she takes God's promise and alters it to fit her desires. Hagar becomes pregnant and Sarai can finally be happy now, right? Wrong! Sarai's impatience may have provided a temporary solution but now jealously sets in.

"He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, 'You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.'" - Genesis 16:4-5

     Happiness is over. Anger, pointing fingers, regret, envy, and jealousy have set in. Her impatience now creates a ripple that affects Abram, Hagar, and the even the baby. Abram tells Sarai that Hagar is her slave and to do as she pleases. So Sarai allows the anger to boil over and mistreats Hagar so badly, she flees. 

     An angel of the Lord (possibly Jesus himself), finds Hagar at a spring in the desert and tells her to go back, submit, and promises to increase her descendants. 

"The angel of the Lord also said to her: 'You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.'" - Genesis 16:11-12

     See what I mean when I spoke about a ripple affect? Even Ishmael's life (Ishmael means "God will hear") will be affected because of the disbelief Sarai displayed in God's promise. Ishmael will become a fighter. Hagar agrees and does what she was told to do. Come to think about it, Sarai went against God's ways and abused her Egyptian slave and later, her descendants would become enslaved by, you guess it, Egyptians. Are the two incidents linked? Who knows...but its a possibility.

     So what have you asked God for that has not been answered yet? Is it a promotion? To be married? To win this week's lottery? Okay, the latter may never happen because money has a way of changing the hearts of people and I'm sure God does not want to place us in that situation. Sometimes God answers our prayers quickly and its amazing. Other times though, God has us wait. Why? Simple...because God knows what is best for us when is the best time for us to receive our request. Don't let your faith in God's promise waver. Don't alter God's plan for you because He knows what is best...for all of us.

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Ken is a blogger at Christian Pals Blog. He enjoys anything creative and playing golf.
Proud father, husband, and servant of God.

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