Genesis 21: The matter gave great pain to Abraham.
I was just trying to help.
My dad wasn’t the best teacher in the world. He was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known and he didn’t have time to teach when there was so much he needed to do. Often he’d let me try my hand at something, like loosening a bolt on a motor he was repairing but if I didn’t get it right off, he’d tell me to stand back so he could do it. Honestly, I wasn’t very good at that kind of stuff anyway and my “helping” could have been better described as “hindering.” I think the Lord feels that way about the tragic Abraham-Sarah-Hagar situation. The Lord had promised the couple a son and then, following Sarah’s suggestion, Abraham tried to “help” by taking advantage of defenseless Hagar. The result is, well, things are a mess. Abraham now has competing heirs. When Sarah, a senior-adult-over-protective mother, demands that Abraham send Hagar and his son Ishmael away, it breaks his heart. As he hesitates the Lord speaks to him. In their attempt to help God, Abraham and Sarah have greatly complicated matters. Now, the Lord tells Abraham to stand back and let him handle things. The result won’t be perfect, but the Lord will deal with the mess Abraham and Sarah have made. However, the solution’s going to bring continued pain to Abraham’s and Isaac’s descendants. Think of how different the world would have been had Abraham and Sarah waited on God and not tried to help. Sometimes, I need to just stand still and trust God to act and not try to help so much.
Take away: Sometimes the best way to partner with God in what he’s doing in this world is to get out of his way and let him work.
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