As members of God’s chosen family, His adopted family, we will face adversity. If it helps, you can blame Satan’s hatred for God and us. However, keep in mind that God uses that adversity for our good.
Marriage is one environment where God sanctifies us. When we face adversity in our marriage, it is our choice whether we take matters into our own hands or place our faith in God. Although God uses both to accomplish His will for our lives, placing our faith in Him will not only grow our faith but will lead us to the blessings He has for us. It is through this perseverance that our dependence on God and our faith grows.
Have you longed for children and not been able to have them? This desire can take its toll on a marriage. Abraham and Sarah waited for years for God’s promise to come to fruition. Eventually, Isaac was born. What did they do during the wait? Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands. Why? There was a loss of faith that they would have the promised son simply because they thought it impossible.
The result of this doubt is recorded in Genesis 16:15 (NIV), “So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ismael to the son she had borne.”
Two chapters later, in Genesis 18:10-12 (NLT), we see that Sarah still has her doubts:
Then one of them said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son!’ Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children. So she laughed silently to herself and said, ‘How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master – my husband – is also so old?’
Satan was able to use Sarah’s bareness against both Sarah and Abraham. Their doubt led to Abraham having a child with Hagar. This disobedience led to hardship for Ishmael after Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Sarah demanded that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away, and they wandered in the wilderness to the point Hagar thought she and Ishmael would die (Genesis 21:8-21). Although an angel rescued them, Ishmael still grew up without his father Abraham.
We can see how the choice that Abraham made not only affected himself but also Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael. All of the descendants of Abraham felt the lasting effects of his decision to take matters into his own hands.
Just like Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah longed for children. Instead of taking matters into his own hands as did Abraham, Isaac went to God on Rebekah’s behalf, and God answered in Genesis 25:21 (NIV): “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”
Not only did God answer their prayers but He blessed them with more than they expected.
The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated, one will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.’ When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb (Genesis 25:23-24, NIV).
Here we see that Isaac went directly to God with his concerns. Satan was unable to use his barren wife against him.
We can see the differences between the choices of Abraham and Isaac. Although God will use even our lack of faith and our disobedience to accomplish His will, we cannot take that to mean we are exempt from the consequences associated with our decision to take matters into our own hands.
When adversity comes your way, will you take matters into your own hands or will you follow the example of Isaac and go to God?
Editor’s Note: The above blog, written by Marion Newbury, was originally posted May 19, 2017, on EngageMagazine.net. Newbury is a devoted military wife of over 15 years who has experienced separations and deployments. She works with numerous organizations to help fill the gaps in service and education on PTSD and Moral Injuries as well as being an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) master trainer. It is her life experience that helps her fulfill her passion of providing information, training, and assistance to both military and civilian families. Newbury also works with several local churches to develop both their military ministry and social media ministry programs.