Have you ever thought God might be unfair? Sometimes, even when we read Scripture, we may get this impression.
Genesis 21 might be one of those passages …but hang on and check this out…
After 25 years of waiting on the promise to be fulfilled, Sarah gives birth to Isaac.
Then, Sarah gets upset (again) as she notices Ishmael is scoffing at her toddler.
Again, she asks Abraham to fix her problem by sending Ismael (Abraham’s son by her maid, Hagar) and Hagar away.
But this time, Abraham consults the Lord first. (Good job Abraham!)
And, surprisingly, God tells Abraham to do as Sarah has asked (Gen 21:12). And, on the surface, God’s response might seem unloving or unfair.
In fact, sometimes, as we endeavor to walk with God and seek to know His character , there will be times we simply won’t understand His answers or His ways.
But if we hold on, it’s also true, that sometimes, we will come to understand, that answer we didn’t like, ultimately turned out to be for our good.
Now, not every situation is tied up with a pretty bow and a happily-ever-after ending.
God is certainly not required to explain Himself and sometimes we will never understand this side of a Heaven why things happen (and when we get to Heaven, we likely won’t care).
But as I ponder God sending Ishmael away, I can’t help but think of what happens next in Genesis 22.
God famously asks Abraham to surrender Isaac too.
Before Abraham knew God would provide a way out, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son (Gen 22:2).
Hold nothing back.
And think about this—If God had not permitted Abraham to go along with Sarah’s wishes and send Ishmael away in Genesis 21, Genesis 22:2 wouldn’t read as profound.
God tells Abraham “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
This picture of absolute surrender and giving of his ONLY son is a foreshadowing of what God did as He gave His only Son for us.
These are hard passages from the Bible and right there in the very first book.
But as we continue to read and seek to know our Lord, we will find He never asks more than He gives. He provides all we need.
Yes, He wants our hearts. He wants every square centimeter.
He wants our complete surrender and our faithful obedience. He wants us to hold nothing back from Him.
But let’s also remember that God held nothing back from us!
For God SO LOVED the world that HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
And that changed everything. That is the happy ending for everyone who accepts this greatest of gifts, this amazing sacrifice, as their story.