The trajectory of faith is not a linear line heading straight up. At times, our faith is strong and there is a tangible-ness in the knowing God is with us and that we are basking in God’s call and presence. At other times, our faith wanes as we get impatient, try to force things into being, or simply give up. Thankfully, Abram is a fine example of one who believes the promise but loses patience in waiting for the fulfillment of that promise!
After it becomes clear that Abram’s wife is barren, Abram takes the promise of children to mean that he should start a family with a servant in his home: Hagar. This seems logical—“Years ago I was given a promise to have a huge family and it hasn’t happened with my barren wife, so I will start the family the only way I know how—with someone else!”
Has the experience of praying and waiting ever worn you down? Or have you looked for a new opportunity in the face of what is seemingly good and right? Abram isn’t a bad guy, he is just trying to live into the promise of God and fulfill his greatest desire, to be a father!
And so, he becomes a father to a son named Ishmael. And yet this isn’t the child that God had promised. Instead, that child is to be given through Sarai, his barren wife. And, in the midst of the renaming of the promise, Abram’s name is changed. Abram means ‘exalted ancestor’ and his new name becomes Abraham meaning “ancestor of a multitude.” The promise is more than lip service, it is profound enough to change the very core identity of Abraham! Living into the promises of God can be a long journey of patience and at times we may stumble, but God is faithful and continues to invite us to trust!