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When to Do Our Part and When to Let God Do His? - Gen 16:1-16 PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Tsang   
Wednesday, 28 June 2017 08:53


Throughout the years, I came across a few slogans or mantras used in church that seem inspirational at first but upon further reflection, I’m not sure what it really means. For example:


Pray as if everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. (St. Augustine)


While we don’t believe in sitting idly by and letting God bring everything into fruition; we also do not believe in running around in a frenzied state trying to make things happen on our own strength and effort. Somewhere in between these polar extremes is where we live in the complexities of everyday life.


Gen 16 is the familiar story of Abram, Sarai, Hagar, and the birth of Ishmael. By Gen 16, it’s been about 10 years since God called Abram in Gen 12 and he still does not have a son. Today, if a couple had a difficult time conceiving, they would go to a fertility specialist to see if there are ways to facilitate a pregnancy. It is worthy to note that what Sarai and Abram did in trying to conceive through Hagar was an accepted practice during ancient times. So what are we to make of this story?


Two things I take away from this story. First, a follower of Christ should sincerely seek God’s guidance and leading in the big questions of life. She should consult medical advice, talk to people who have experienced similar things, pray, but ultimately, she must come to terms with what she believes to be personal responsibility balanced with putting her trust in God. Second, the good news of this story comes in the second part of Gen 16, where we read that Hagar and Ishmael still received a blessing from God. In other words, even if we get it wrong, God’s purpose will still come through and He can redeem our ‘messes’. God’s covenant promise will still come through Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac. Ishmael also became a great nation. And God will bless the nations through Abraham. Isn’t it good news that God’s purpose does not depend on me having to get it right all the time?


Peace and grace, John

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 December 2017 10:13