Throughout Abram’s story we see his faults vividly. He detours and deceives people, and others continue to suffer the consequences of his actions. How many more chances would Abram get? How many more people would need to suffer?
Even as Abram detoured and deceived people, God saw and saved him. Woven throughout Abram’s story is God’s faithfulness, not only to Abram, but also to Abram’s servants and descendants.
One such example is found in Genesis 16. Abram detoured once again to try to fulfill the promises of God himself. Abram took his wife’s servant, Hagar, and had a son with her. While Hagar was pregnant, Sarai cast her out. The Bible says God saw her in the desert and protected her (Genesis 16:13). Later, after Isaac was born, Hagar and her son, Ishmael, were once again cast out. God saw the great injustice toward Hagar and her son. Not only did God see Hagar and her son, he also added blessing to their lives (Genesis 21:18).
God’s faithfulness extends through the covenant he made with Abram. God extended his love and faithfulness to others even when Abram was unfaithful.
In Abram’s story we see our stories. We see the ways we use others to protect ourselves, the ways we deceive others because we are afraid, and the ways we take the fulfillment of God’s word to us into our own hands. We are not so different from Abram.
As we sin, God remains faithful. As our actions cause suffering for others, God sees and saves us. This does not excuse us from doing good and living aligned with God’s ways. It is a reminder that our actions are not more powerful than God’s actions and that nothing can thwart God’s promises to us and to others.
At last, in Genesis 21:1–7 we read of God’s fulfillment of a descendant through the promise of a son, Isaac. Abram and Sarai could not bring God’s covenant to fruition on their own, but God would do it, just as he promised. He would do so in an unimaginable and miraculous way—the pregnancy of a woman who was beyond childbearing years. He would do so in a way that no one could deny it was a work of his hands. With the promise of a son came new names for Abram and Sarai; they would be called Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17:4–15). Sarah’s pregnancy and their name changes were markers of God’s covenant. Abraham’s new name meant “Father of Multitudes,” and Sarah’s corresponded to mean “Mother of Nations.” God saw and fulfilled his covenant to them.