Genesis 21:11 | Displeasing Choices

Christianity is “sold” as something that will make one happy. So, what happens when that bill of goods turns out to cause conflict and places you in a no-win situation? An interesting situation just like that happened to a women’s soccer star who choose to withdraw from playing on the women’s national team rather than play in a game that required her to wear a Pride teamed jersey. Being invited to play on the national team was probably a dream come true. In a personal social media post, she says she prayed about the choice for 3 days and then walked away from playing on the national team. While being a christian means we must love everyone she felt conflicted that wearing a jersey like this crossed a line. While it is possible to love others one may not always agree with she also did not feel it was her duty, that the national women’s soccer team was asking of her, to celebrate everything that the pride flag represents. So, what happens when trying to live for Christ is crushing and displeasing. What happens when choices are presented that will not make one happy as a Christian?

Abraham, the father of faith, faced a terrible choice that made him very unhappy. Following what God wanted caused him untold loss and grief. Abraham had a son with his wife’s slave. I know this statement sounds terrible to our modern ears and even in this time thousands of years ago what Abraham did to have this son was not right before God yet the reality is that he has a son by this woman who is not his wife. When his wife Sarah has her own son she instantly becomes jealous and protective of this newborn over the son of her servant. Sarah’s motivation is selfish but she is not wrong. Human nature being what it is these two sons would eventually be at odds over who would be an heir to the promises of God and the wealth of Abraham’s household. Sarah demanded that Abraham send his other son away to prevent this future conflict.  

11 And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. Genesis 21:11 ESV

Abraham was not happy about what his wife is demanding. I have no doubt that he was proud of his first son and loved him. How could he not. God delivers bad news to Abraham…

12 But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. Genesis 21:12 ESV

There is no way this made him “happy” like what is sold to some about Christ. Just choose Jesus he will make your life better is not always true. Choosing Jesus will make life harder for some. This soccer player must have felt like she was in a situation that had only unhappy choices. Peace in her spirit by choosing Jesus or sadness to let her dream to play on the national team go. Not to mention the grief she will receive from her teammates and the public at large. But that is nothing compared to a business executive living in a culture of bribes to get things done becomes a follower of Christ and looses out on all business because the executive is convicted by God about the sinful nature of bribes. Worse yet what about those Christians who were killed in front of cameras by ISIS? Renounce Jesus or choose death. That is a very displeasing choice.

23 And [Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? Luke 9:23-25 ESV

Abraham could have rejected God’s direction to send the boy away. It was a no-win situation for Abraham. He would not have any part in his own son’s life. The wounds might never heal. But he denied himself and gained life for all of us today. Through Sarah’s son the second born to Abraham is a family that leads to birth of Jesus. From even this moment God was directing history to save humanity from our sins. Today each of us has a chance to throw our broken lives at the mercy of God and gain not this world and the success of what the world values but gain life in eternity with God the maker of heaven and earth. God tells Abraham as well as us today “Be not displeased” at the tuff choices or the self-denial for through me you will be saved. When this short life ends those in Christ will live for eternity with God in heaven.