Gen 17:15-19 Then God said to Abraham, “Sarah will become the mother of many nations. . . .” Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief . . . and said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you . . . and I will confirm my covenant with him.”
Abraham wanted to help God out by taking a shortcut toward fulfillment of his promise. But God said NO—it will be exactly as I the Lord have planned and determined. Not your way—my way.
One Saturday morning as Dave and I dawdled over breakfast, eleven-year-old Karis walked into the kitchen looking very serious. “Mom and Dad, I have an important request. I don’t want you to pray any more for me to be healed. I read 2 Corinthians 12 this morning. Paul prayed three times for God to heal him and God said no. Thousands of prayers have been said for me and God can heal me if he wants to but it seems like he has said no. I want you to pray instead that I will live the way God wants me to whether I’m well or not. I just memorized 2 Corinthians 12:9, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ That’s going to be my life verse from now on.”
God’s way proved extremely costly, to Karis and to all who loved her. Daily I wished for a different way—a better way, I thought. My way. What God of power and love treats his children as God treated Karis?
But God said no. He said, “My grace is all you need.”
I hate to be told no. There’s a streak of the stubborn two-year-old still alive in me. I think I know better—that if I were in charge, things would be different. Not just different—better.
I catch myself thinking I should be God.
3 thoughts on “But God said NO”
Wow! I remember the incident well. I just never put it together with the idea that “BUT GOD said ‘no’!” You’re right that we’re not usually prepared for God to say no. In fact, I tend to keep on pushing forward on my own strength until I get really frustrated or discouraged. It’s hard to be sensitive to God and keep listening. I need that sensitivity now in relationship to my involvement in West Africa – it hasn’t gone well. Does this mean that I should press forward with greater involvement or pull back? What is God saying?
Interesting that Abraham had a second time when he was caught up in his feelings, BUT GOD gave him a different direction from that he was thinking (Gn 21:11), telling him to listen to and follow his wife’s sense of direction even though it conflicted with what he wanted. Imagine that!!
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Yes–the Hagar story is surprising in many ways! Even though God had a plan for Isaac, he had a plan for Ishmael as well. Gen 21:17 is one of my favorites: “Do not be afraid! God has heard . . .” It means so much to know he hears us.
I love it that Abraham had it all figured out one way but God had it all figured out another, better way. Gives me a new way to think about something similar in my life too. And I love that Karis story. I’ve heard it before but not with the Abraham and Sarah connection. Thanks for sharing this! 💜
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