This series has focused on Abraham’s amazing faith. But his faith wasn’t always so amazing. At times, Abraham failed God and the people around him.
Abraham’s wife Sarah must have been drop-dead gorgeous. For upon entering Egypt, Abraham fears that if the Pharaoh knows Sarah is his wife, he’ll kill Abraham to take Sarah into his harem. So, instead of protecting Sarah, Abraham protects himself. He asks Sarah to tell a half-truth and say she is his sister. FAIL. Pharaoh takes Sarah, but before he touches her, God steps in and protects Sarah. (Genesis 12:14-20)
Above all, Abraham desired a child. After years of barrenness, Abraham and Sarah grow tired of waiting on God. Sarah offers her handmaid Hagar as a surrogate. Abraham agrees. FAIL. Hagar bears him a son named Ishmael. Later, when trouble erupts between Sarah and Hagar, Abraham ousts Hagar and Ishmael into the desert wilderness to fend for themselves. FAIL. God steps in and protects Hagar and Ishmael. (Genesis 16, 21:8–21)
When God first promised Abraham a son, he believed. But when God renews the promise twenty-four years later, Abraham laughs out loud. Really, at our age? FAIL. Our God has a sense of humor. He names their soon-to-be-conceived son Isaac—which means laughter. (Genesis 17:17-19)
God just promised Isaac would be born within the year. Abraham’s caravan enters the territory of King Abimelech. Again, Abraham fears the king will murder him to take Sarah. He asks Sarah to lie a second time and say she is his sister. Abraham allows Abimelech to take his wife. FAIL. And yet again, before the king touches Sarah, God protects her. (Genesis 20)
Abraham was a real person. He was capable of both amazing faith and failure. His failures, however, did not prevent him from fulfilling God’s call and purpose. Abraham became the Father of our Faith. Our God is a God of grace and second chances.
As a woman, Abraham’s failure to protect his women troubles me. However, his failures also comfort me. Because I fail, too. I act selfishly and self-protect. I tell half-truths. I hurt the people around me. I doubt God’s promises. We all do. Thankfully, the Lord often steps in and protects us. Like Abraham, our failures don’t disqualify us from fulfilling God’s call and purposes. We are women of faith. Our stories are still being written by a God of grace and second chances!
Questions to ponder:
- A friend of mine thinks of failure as “failing forward,” because we can choose to learn and grow from our mistakes. What have you learned from past failures?
- We live in a broken world filled with broken people. The light of Christ often shines brightest through our brokenness. How has Christ redeemed and shined through your difficulties and failures?
- The Bible is often uncomfortably honest regarding the failures of God’s people. We often say at Grace, “Man is man and nothing more. God is God and nothing less.” How is this illustrated in Abraham’s story? In your story?