Stop Trying to Figure God Out

First Reading: Genesis 21:5, 8-20

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And the child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Be not displeased because of the lad and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your descendants be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the child.” And as she sat over against him, the child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. And God was with the lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 34:7-13

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! O fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there who desires life, and covets many days, that he may enjoy good?

Gospel: Matthew 8:28-34

And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many swine was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the swine; and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, and perished in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, and what had happened to the demoniacs. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.


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Have any of you seen “The Bible” miniseries on Netflix?

I myself just began watching it, and part of the first episode focuses on what is going on in the First Reading between Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar. Of all this drama going on, I find myself most able to relate to Sarah. I think in a lot of ways each of can be like Sarah at different times in our lives.

When Abraham first told his wife of the prophecy that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, she was shocked. How is it possible for there to be future generations if Sarah is unable to conceive?

I wonder what that must have felt like for her. Maybe she was resentful, angry, or even just laughed in Abraham’s face. Wanting to believe such an incredible promise from God, Sarah struggled and wrestled with how this would come to be.

So in her doubt and lack of faith, she devised a plan that would absolutely allow for God’s words to come to fruition. Sarah told Abraham to take her maidservant Hagar to conceive a child with. Sarah tried to fix an unfixable situation on her own, but in the end it backfired.

A little baby boy is born, and he is named Ishmael. And we know, Sarah eventually does conceive and gives birth to Isaac.

But something deep within Sarah’s heart begins to stir ad bubble over. As she watches Ishmael and Isaac play together, her heart grows cold, hardened, and even jealous towards Hagar and her son. Resentment builds up in her soul as she feels the full force of her plan unraveling. Desperate for her own son Isaac to fulfill the promise of God, Sarah demands that Abraham cast off Hagar and Ishmael so that her son may receive what is rightfully his.

Abraham is utterly heartbroken to send away his firstborn son with his mother, but finds comfort that God has a plan for Ishmael and that he will not be forgotten.

At the end of the day, we are no different than Sarah.

In our broken humanity, it can be easier to think of a way to make things work out instead of trusting God’s plan and purpose.  Yes, it is scary to trust God, especially when we do not understand what He is doing or why something is allowed to happen in our life. I am sure Sarah felt this way too. Sarah reminds us that whenever we get entangled in the mighty mysterious plan of God, it never works out.

Are there situations in your own life today you just don’t understand how God will work everything out? Share them aloud with Jesus; He already knows it all. Are you willing to let God be God and not get in His way? What would that look like in your own life?

photo by Madi Myers-Cook

Patty Hubbard is a wife, writer, and youth minister. When not fundraising for World Youth Day, she is learningSarah reminds us that whenever we get entangled in the mighty mysterious plan of God, it never works out. to cook more than your average Lean Cuisine. You can find out more about her here.

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