The need for control- to know what’s happening and feel that you have a say in it. A part to play. Something that’s important to do. A way to change circumstances you don’t like. I think we all have some of that deep in our spirit. We like to be able to affect change. But there is a better way.
There are some things we need to do- our God given responsibilities. But there is also an element of trust and faith that we buck against. We don’t want to have to trust the unknown. We want tangible things. There are two sides of the canyon to fall off of- one where we do everything and one where we do nothing. Neither is best. Let’s take a look at Sarai in Genesis 16 and learn from her story.
Abram had been promised an heir in Genesis 15:4 but he was in a waiting pattern. He and Sarai were getting old. So Sarai starts to control instead of trust. She gives her servant Hagar to Abraham so that he will have an heir with her. She’s trying to control the situation. To help God do what she feels He won’t or can’t do on His own. It’s a miscalculation. Sin.
Immediately Hagar treats her badly. She has contempt toward Sarai. She despises and lacks respect for her now. After all, she has what Sarai has desired for so long. She has a child. So Sarai gets frustrated and blames Abram. She treats Hagar harshly and send her away. In her attempt to control, things have spiraled out of control. So she’s angry and harsh.
The story does end well for Sarai, who would later be renamed Sarah. She has a child, Isaac through whom God’s blessing is imparted to His people. But can you see her sinful controlling nature in what she did? Can you see the consequences of that sin?
As I’ve pondered this story, I see myself so freshly in Sarai’s actions. She saw a situation that needed fixing. She had waited a long time for God to make good on His promises, so she began to doubt. It seems that she doubted whether the heir would come through her. She doubted His timing. She doubted His ability. She doubted His sovereignty and control and power. She doubted His goodness and love for her.
So she controlled. She tried to help God. She thought that her ways were best. But they weren’t. I often do the same. Movement and answers to prayer can take a long time. I grow impatient. I want to help fix it. But I don’t do the real work of prayer. I do my work. And that work isn’t what God has asked me to do, but what I think is best. It’s me forcing it. Just like Sarai did.
But there’s a better way. To watch and wait and pray. To confess that God is in control. To remember His love and care for me. That He is working things for my good and for His glory. To rest in His promises and His faithfulness to always bring them about. I need to trust and have faith. To let go of my will and timing and accept His. Lord, help us give up control. To You. And to watch, wait and pray. To trust instead of acting. To hope and believe. And to stop taking control.