God had assured Abraham that his promised offspring would come from his own body (see Genesis 15:4), but Abraham and Sarah were old enough to be heading for the nursing home, not setting up a nursery. How could God accomplish such a miracle?
Read Genesis 16. In Abraham's day, it was a shameful thing to be childless. Children provided an extra set of hands in the field and could care for their parents in their old age. And one could leave their accumulated possessions to a son and have a legacy long after they were gone. But Abraham had no children to show for all his many years.
If God makes a promise, He will keep it without any assistance from you or me.
Abraham's importance in his society—in fact, his manhood—was at stake, and Sarah felt deeply for what would have been perceived as her husband's disgrace. So Sarah suggested that Abraham have a child through her servant Hagar (see Genesis 16:2). Sarah wanted the world to know that the reason they were not able to have children was her fault and not her husband's. In that sense, it was a seemingly selfless act. But it was also a sinful act.
God's miracles don't require help from us. If He makes a promise, He will keep it without any assistance from you or me. Sarah and Abraham thought they needed to lend God a hand, but all they did was create a deeply dysfunctional family situation. In fact, when Hagar's pregnancy began to show, Sarah began to resent her servant. And Hagar returned the favor! Soon, Hagar fled from Sarah's cruelty.
But God is able to bring good from anything—even sin. The angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar in the desert and urged her to return to Sarah. Then He made her this promise: "I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count" (Genesis 16:10). Even when we are faithless, God is faithful. Whenever you are tempted to think that He has forgotten you, that He is not aware of your pain, I want you to remember Hagar here. Remember what she said: "You are the God who sees me" (Genesis 16:13).
Prayer: Father, help me to trust Your promises and be obedient to Your Word without taking matters into my own hands. I praise You that no one escapes Your notice and that You are faithful even when we are not. May I remember Your deep love and care for me and in turn share that with others. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"[I]f we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself" (2 Timothy 2:13).