In the Face of Doubt

Ten years had passed since they had started their new life in Canaan. Was it what Sarai expected? I doubt it. Is it ever as we expect it? She had followed her husband willfully on this journey in hopes of a family – a child of her very own. The word of the LORD to Abram had been “Go…and I will make of you a great nation.” Surely music to her battered and broken heart. With such a promise I imagine her response something along the lines of “Yes! Yes I’ll go Abram! An entire nation from me!” Certainly hope soared within her as they entered the land of promise.

Devotional: Genesis 16:1-6
Key Verse:  “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” Ps. 27:14; NKJV

But then…nothing. For ten long years. Ever been there? By her estimation she was running out of time. Little did she know that’s exactly what God wanted…her body “dead.” So he could be the God who brings life out of death. So he could showcase his marvelous power.

But she couldn’t see the big picture. She didn’t know the big picture. Most of the time we don’t. That’s why it’s called faith. So as time passed and hope drained, Sarai began to doubt. Because isn’t that what happens when prayers go presumably unanswered? Our minds fill with doubt. Maybe…I misunderstood. Maybe that promise wasn’t meant for me.

And Satan gets us right where he wants us. A place of uncertainty. “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her” (Gen. 16:2). 〰 “Abram I know God said you would have a child but maybe it’s not through me. Maybe the promise wasn’t meant for me.” Oh how quickly the seed of doubt can grow. As she considered her options, Sarai became more and more convinced Hagar had to be the solution.

Now before we harp too much on Sarai and the fact she encouraged her husband to have sex with another woman, let’s consider the culture. I’m certainly not excusing her. What she suggested was wrong and God did not honor it but culturally in the world she grew up in it was not an uncommon practice. It was the woman’s responsibility to produce an heir for her husband. If she couldn’t do it a servant could act as a surrogate mother to provide a child.

I think it’s also worth noting that Abram and Sarai had the same father but different mothers (Gen. 20:12). Their background likely included polygamy. That being said I think Sarai had good intentions. Certainly I could be wrong but she is praised in Hebrews 11 as a woman of faith. And again in 1 Peter 3 as a woman to be modeled after. But after years of waiting; years of hoping; she found herself in a place of uncertainty. A very dangerous place. For it’s often from a state of uncertainty we act apart from God.

And end up with an “Ishmael” in our lives. With a mess we didn’t foresee. Heartache we didn’t expect. All because of a little uncertainty. A little harmless uncertainty in the faithfulness of God.

But is it ever harmless? Doubt is the devil’s playground. I cannot imagine the heartache Sarai experienced the night she knew her husband was intimately in the arms of another. And the rejection she must have felt to realize God had blessed Hagar so quickly with child but not her. However the consequences didn’t end there. Sarai had no idea the conflict that would exist between her offspring and that of Hagar. No idea it would go on for thousands of years. No idea it would be the cause of such terrible turmoil. No idea it would last until Christ’s final return (smoldering still today).

Is it any wonder God told us to take every thought captive for Christ? (2 Cor. 10:5) Every doubt. Every fear. Is it any wonder God told us to pray without ceasing? (1 Thess. 5:17) Is it any wonder God said to cast our anxieties on him? (1 Peter 5:7) Any wonder God said to trust him wholeheartedly and lean not on our own understanding? (Prov. 3:5-6) Oh the messes we make when we act apart from God because of doubt or fear or uncertainty.

Oh restless heart be still. Remember God’s faithfulness. Don’t doubt. No don’t doubt. It will only lead to trouble. “Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Ps. 27:14; NKJV)

He has a plan. A good and wonderful plan. Be still restless heart. Please don’t move ahead of God. Trust him. His ways are not your ways. His thoughts are not your thoughts. (Is. 55:8-9) Just because he doesn’t work in the timing you had hoped doesn’t mean he’s forgotten or changed his mind or found a loophole. It means he’s still working. He’s still preparing. Trust the God who made you. Trust the God who died for you. He has not forsaken you.

Restless heart pray. Just think how different life might have been if Abram and Sarai had prayed – in the face of uncertainty. Trust God for something better. Why is it when life doesn’t go our way we often assume the worst? What if instead we trusted God for something amazing! For something far more wonderful than we could have ever imagined! Instead of rationalizing; instead of doubting; instead of taking matters into our own hands – what if we believed God was still working? For his glory and for our good…trust him restless heart…trust him.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Eph. 3:20-21

Contemplate and Evaluate:
1. In what area of your life do you need to trust God for something better or bigger or far more wonderful than you could have ever imagined?
2. When have you acted apart from God because of doubt or fear or uncertainty? How can you use that experience to encourage another in their struggle to trust God?image

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