15Abraham, from now on your wife's name will be Sarah instead of Sarai. 16I will bless her, and you will have a son by her. She will become the mother of nations, and some of her descendants will even be kings.
17Abraham bowed with his face to the ground and thought, “I am almost 100 years old. How can I become a father? And Sarah is 90. How can she have a child?” So he started laughing. 18Then he asked God, “Why not let Ishmael inherit what you have promised me?”
19But God answered:
No! You and Sarah will have a son. His name will be Isaac, and I will make an everlasting promise to him and his descendants.
20However, I have heard what you asked me to do for Ishmael, and so I will also bless him with many descendants. He will be the father of twelve princes, and I will make his family a great nation. 21But your son Isaac will be born about this time next year, and the promise I am making to you and your family will be for him and his descendants forever.
22God finished speaking to Abraham and then left.
23-27On that same day Abraham obeyed God by circumcising Ishmael. Abraham was also circumcised, and so were all the other men and boys in his household, including his servants and slaves. He was 99 years old at the time, and his son Ishmael was 13.
Do you sometimes find it hard to believe that anything is possible with God? Abraham did, but today we see that his lack of faith didn’t cause God to withdraw his promises. God’s response was patience. That’s good news for us!
God promised that Sarai would be the mother of nations and kings, and changed her name to Sarah to indicate the new life she was about to begin.
Abraham laughed at Sarah’s new name and God’s promise because he didn’t believe they could have a child at their ages! Instead, he wished God’s promises would be fulfilled through the son he already had—by Hagar! The Lord responded, re-affirming he’d fulfill his promises his way, not Abraham’s.
Abraham learned that God’s ways are not our ways! God’s ways sometimes appear illogical to us, but that’s exactly why they demonstrate God’s power. God’s ultimate ‘illogical’ plan has to be the cross, which is foolishness to the unbelieving, and yet represents the power of God to those who are saved by it (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
Jesus models acceptance of God’s ways. As a human he wanted to avoid the cross, perhaps to fulfill his mission through continued ministry. But after confessing his preference, he prayed what we all should pray, “Father, if you will, please don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup. But do what you want, and not what I want” (Luke 22:42). Because Jesus obeyed, the Father exalted him so that one day everyone will acknowledge his Lordship (Philippians 2:8-11).
We must discern when to work hard and make things happen and when to wait for God to act first. Pre-empting God’s way when he has something different in mind means we’ll miss seeing God’s powerful work in our lives.
My Lord God, who spoke all things into being, whose thoughts and ways are not like mine, help me discern your ways and build my faith so that your purposes may be accomplished through me. Through Jesus Christ, my model for faithful obedience, Amen.