Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had
borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named
Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, "The Lord has kept me from having
children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. (Genesis 16:1-2, NIV)
Have you ever experienced a high point in your relationship with God only to follow it with falling flat on your face? God had just clearly confirmed His covenant with Abram (Genesis 15). He promised Abram and Sarai an heir although they were too old to have children. But, moving mountains doesn't always mean getting out the pick and shovel. That's the lesson Abram and Sarai learned. They set out to make God's promise happen using the standard means of their day, but the result only left them with trouble and strife. While Ishmael means "God hears," it sounds similar to a word meaning "wilderness" or "wasteland."
Following God's will doesn't mean sitting passively waiting. It means submitting to God's standards, not improvising with popular shortcuts. Impatient improvisations often lead to wasted effort, exhaustion, and despair. Planning by the world's standards is an educated guess at best (James 4:13-17). Living by Christ's example (1 Peter 2:21) leads to the confidence that God is at work in our lives (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13).