I don’t suppose the act of waiting is easy for anyone. When we want something badly, hoping it will happen soon, we can hardly stand it! We’re like children in August longing for Christmas in December. It seems it will never get here! Sometimes we barely believe that what we wait for will really happen. Such was the case with Abraham and Sarah.
Their story is told in the Old Testament. They were both advanced in years, way beyond what would be biologically possible to conceive a child. Sarah must have longed for a baby throughout her marriage, because in Bible times, for a married woman to be barren was a shame and great embarrassment. Imagine what she must have felt when God announced that she and Abraham would have a son. Such was her unbelief that she actually laughed about it, but she greatly wanted it to happen. Abraham believed but the wait turned into years.
One day Sarah devised a plan to make the promise come true. She was “helping God out.” Have you every done that very thing? Finagling events to make something happen the way you want and when you want it? She talked Abraham into sleeping with her handmaid whose name was Hagar. Abraham agreed. Hagar had a son and named him Ismael.
God then comes on the scene and announces to Sarah and Abraham that His promise for them to have a son was about to happen. It did and Isaac was born. Abraham asked God to please bless his son Ishmael as well as Isaac. God did not have to do that because His promise was always for the son of Abraham and Sarah. Even so, in His mercy and grace, He blessed Ishmael, but take note of the blessing. This is important. In Genesis 21:13, God tells Abraham that a great nation will come through Ishmael. However, previously in Genesis 18:18, God tells Abraham that all the nations of the earth will be blessed through Isaac.
If Abraham had satisfied himself with Ishmael, conceived by his own plan, there would have been blessing by God’s grace and love, but it would not have been nearly so great as waiting for God’s intended purpose. Ishmael was blessed with a nation but Isaac with all the nations of the earth.
There are times in our lives when we get tired of waiting for what God has promised. Like Sarah, we devise a plan to “help God out.” We finagle to our own purposes. We satisfy ourselves with Ishmael; forgetting entirely — Isaac is coming.