The Folly of Impatience (Genesis 16)

Will Rogers once said, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” How do you know if your decisions are helping to solve your problems or if they are simply making them worse? If we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we must not make the situation worse by making foolish decisions. So, how do we know if our decisions are foolish or wise? Wise decisions are always born as a result of faith. In our sermon this morning, let us learn from Abram and Sarai about the foolishness of impatience and the wisdom of faith.

  1. The Folly of Impatience. Impatience leads to foolish decisions. Consider:
    1. Unnecessary Anxiety. In verse 1-2, Sarai is anxious. She has convinced herself that she is the reason God’s promise for a son has not come to pass. She then goes further to say that it is God’s fault: “The Lord has prevented me from bearing children.” Instead of trusting God and waiting patiently, she has become unnecessarily anxious and impatient.
    2. Unproductive Planning. In the next two verses, Sarai devised a plan that she believed will solve their dilemma. Then she told Abram to take her servant Hagar as his wife so that “I shall obtain children by her.” Abram should have known this was not a wise plan, but “listened to the voice of Sarai” instead of seeking the Lord’s will.
    3. Unintended Consequences. Verses 4-6 show us that the decision did not solve the problem but made the situation worse. We are told that Hagar conceived and “looked with contempt on her mistress.” We now have chaos in the house because: 1) Hagar despised Sarai, 2) Sarai is mad at Abram, 3) Abram refused to take responsibility for his actions, 4) Sarai “dealt harshly with Hagar”, and 5) Hagar abandoned the household and fled into the wilderness.
  2. The Wisdom of Faith. Faith always leads to wise decisions. Consider:
    1. God is There. In verse 7, Hagar was able to hide from Sarai but not from God. She fled into the wilderness and found God there. We may want to hide from God but it is good that we cannot hide from him because God is the only One who can help us with our problems. Faith reminds us that God is always there.
    2. God is Aware. In verses 8-9, the Angel of the Lord is aware of Hagar’s plight and told her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” While this advice may seem odd, God is instructing Hagar to do the right thing. Faith calls us to always do what is right, regardless of what others do or say.
    3. God Cares. In verses 10-16, God demonstrates His care for Hagar. He told her that her son would be named Ishmael (God hears) “because the Lord has listened to your affliction.” She was also amazed at God’s great love when she said “‘You are a God of seeing, for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.’” Faith reminds us that God loves us greatly.

How do you know if your decisions are helping or harming? The only way to know is to make your decisions on the basis of faith. We must prayerfully seek God’s wisdom so that we do not make a bad situation worse. Remember, if you find yourself in a hole, put down the shovel and ask for a rope.