OUR FAILURES AND MISTAKES AND THE GRACE OF GOD
The story of Abraham was a story of faith and yet it was also a story of failures and mistakes due of his lack of faith. One of those errors committed by Abraham was Hagar. Hagar was manipulated to be Abraham’s second wife by Sarah so that she could have children through her. In a culture where producing a male heir was of utmost important for a woman, tensions soon arose between the barren Sarah and the pregnant Hagar. Sarah treated Hagar harshly and she fled from them in despair.
Look what God did. God went searching for her, and found her in the desert. Something changed in Hagar as a result of that encounter with God. She was not reprimanded or cursed. Instead, God spoke of her son’s future within the extended family of Abraham. However, God asked her to return to Sarah and to submit to her. Hagar returned from the desert and from despair, and lived in submission to Sarah.
Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. He was included in God’s covenant when he was circumcised at the age of 13 together with Abraham, before Isaac was born. Afterward, Ishmael married an Egyptian woman arranged by his mother from among her own people. Ishmael’s son-in-law was Esau and his descendants subsequently settled in Edom (Genesis 25:12-18). The prophet Isaiah in his vision saw both Ishmael’s descendants and Isaac’s descendants would worship the true God together (Isaiah 60:6-7).
In spite of Abraham’s failures and mistakes, God was always faithful to him, even blessing Ishmael greatly. Abraham’s life reminds us that we are not perfect people, and in our humanness, we do not always make the right decisions. There is a throne of grace that we can always come to, and we can bring our burdens before God and seek His will for our lives. God is able to deliver us from our bad decisions and choices that we made. Of course, we are responsible for the consequence of our failures, and the troubles that arose from them. Yet in God’s hand, He helps us to ride out the storms, offers us wisdom and a way out of our bad situations, and blesses us.
Rev. Dr Timothy Chong