July 15, 2023

No Shortcuts

Genesis 16:1-6

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.”

—  Genesis 16:2

It’s human nature to try to control our own destiny. We take matters into our own hands and make something happen—whether it be in business, finance, or family matters. We may even take ill-advised shortcuts to get there.

Abraham is a case in point. Genesis 16 records one of the darkest blots on his spiritual rec­ord. We see this man of faith acting without faith. Frustrated with the delay in God’s plan to give them a child, Abraham and Sarai take matters into their own hands. They devise a scheme for getting what God has promised them. In effect, they try to provide their own solution rather than trusting in God’s timing. In a startling act of unfaithfulness, Abraham sleeps with his wife’s servant Hagar.

This unholy shortcut brings deep and lasting trouble. Hagar becomes pregnant, and soon jealousy breaks out between Sarai and Hagar, and Hagar runs away.

May this tragedy warn us against taking moral shortcuts, compromising our principles, and trying to play God. It’s good to know that when we walk with God, his delays are never dead-ends—and that because of his grace, our failures are never final.

Father, forgive us when we lose confidence in you and take matters into our own hands. Help us instead to trust in you and in your plan for our lives. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Dan Jongsma

Daniel Jongsma serves as an interim pastor in Fulton, Illinois. He has pastored congregations in Elmhurst and Fulton, Illinois; in Dearborn, Michigan; and in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan also served as a church planter in the Chicago area. He and his wife, Gloria, have three daughters and four grandchildren.

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