What NOT to do with God’s Promises

One of the main things I teach people to do when they’re going for a goal or objective is to pray and get a confirmation from the Lord that what they want is what God wants for them. When you get a feeling of peaceful assurance that you’re on the right path, you can proceed forward in faith, resting on God’s promises.

The problem that arises next for most of us is the human need to make God’s promises happen. We start feeling that “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” when the truth is “what God originates He orchestrates.” But surely we can’t sit back and do nothing? We must take action. True faith engenders action – right? Yes, it does, but there is a difference between taking inspired action and forcing an outcome.

I think the very best example of this was Sarai in the Old Testament (Genesis 16). Do you remember the promise God made to Abraham that he and Sarai would have a son? The problem was they were in their 90’s and Sarai’s time for bearing children had long since passed. God promised, yet nothing seemed to be happening. So, Sarai, in classic “take matters into my own hands” fashion set to work to help God fulfill His promise.

She had a handmaiden named Hagar who was of child-bearing years. In this period of time and part of the world, if your handmaid had a child by your husband, it was the same as if you had given birth to the child. It was the early form of surrogate motherhood. So, Sarai, went to her husband and suggested he take Hagar to wife and let her bear a son. It would be Sarai’s by proxy … thus fulfilling the Lord’s promise. After all, it wasn’t logical that a 90-year-old woman could ever bear a child herself – right?

So Abraham follows his wife’s advice, Hagar conceives and then begins to lord her pregnancy over Sarai. Sarai goes to Abraham and admits she’s made a mistake. Now what can she do about this prideful maid? He tells her that Hagar is her maid, and she can deal with her however she wants.

Sarai is harsh with Hagar and Hagar flees. An angel of the Lord appears to Hagar and asks her where she’s from and where’s she’s going. She explains that she’s fleeing from her mistress, Sarai. The angel tells her to return to her mistress and submit herself to her hands. The angel also prophecies to her about her son Ishmael and his impressive future.

Hagar replies with something quite insightful, “God sees me.” She marvels so much over the fact that God sees her — notices her — that the name of the well where she met the angel is called Beer-lahai-roi meaning, “The well of him who liveth and seeth me.”

I believe this desire to be seen, to be noticed and to matter is at the root of all Hagar’s actions toward Sarai. Here she is a servant, and Sarai tells her to have Abraham’s child so it can be hers. Sure, Hagar went along with this plan, but how much choice did she really have in the matter? She was a bondwoman.

Might her acting out toward her mistress be her way of saying, “Am I not human? Don’t I have feelings? Shouldn’t I have a say in how my body is used and for whom my children are born? Does anybody see me? Does anybody think my feelings matter here?”

How many times in our rush to fulfill God’s promises do we trample over other people to make it happen? Sarai used Hagar, and then was upset that Hagar didn’t handle it well. How did she expect her to handle it? I think this story is a classic example of our propensity to take a promise God has made, start trying to control how it happens, and forget completely about the feelings and rights of other people. We rarely stop to look through another person’s eyes to see that they might not be too happy about how we’re manipulating them or using them to reach our objective.

Had Sarai just waited — not taken action to manipulate things — she would have seen that God was actually going to help her bear a son herself. God literally meant what he said, and He didn’t need Sarai’s help to make it happen.

So the next time you feel the need to help God keep His promises, try stepping back and asking Him what action you should take — if any. Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing to do is to just be still and know that He is God!


  1. Marnie, You’ve helped me understand more about the scriptures and also more about trusting God to help me!

    I definitely needed this today (and every day!). Thanks!

    • Thanks Linda! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I’m glad it gave you a bit of food for thought. ๐Ÿ™‚ Take care!

  2. Hi Marnie,
    Thanks so much for this word today. God has promised me a husband which has been confirmed so many times. I get very impatient and want to sort it out myself instead of waiting and letting God do it. This word really spoke to me to lay my hands off and let God take over!

    Take care.

  3. I love this reminder. I have recieved a promise from the Lord that he would heal my husband. It has been 7 long years of waiting and like Sarai trying to make it happen “my way”. Thank you for this reminder that waiting on the Lord helps things not become a big mess ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Marnie,
    Thank you for your excellent comments, and the understanding it gave to me. I too need to learn to be patient, seek His will, and them ” Be quiet and be still and know that He is God”. I am a newcomer to your site and I now get your daily e-mails, thank you ever so much. God bless you, your family and staff, your loved ones, and the entire world. Paul

    • Thank you, Paul! I’m right there with you … learning to be patient and be still. I think that’s something the Lord has been really driving home for me lately. God bless!

  5. Thanks Marnie,

    It all came like the Lord used you to talk to me over my situation. I am lifted to realise that, like Hagar, He notices me too and has great plans for me

  6. Hi Marnie!
    How are you? I thank God for your life and the Ministry you had for you’re really to people. I was enlightened with this 2 last articles of yours , thanks to God! More blessings for you, family and staffs. May God Bless you all!

  7. We are blessed to be a blessing and you are SUCH a blessing! I keep wishing for you to come out with a new book; but I guess I should just come here to get my dose! ๐Ÿ˜‰ xoxoxo

    • Thank you Nancy! I have ideas for a book rolling around. I feel like God’s sending me a puzzle piece at a time. When I have a better idea of what the big picture is, believe me, I’ll run with it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love ya!

  8. Hi, Marnie:

    This message has showed that we have to wait patiently in God and
    be careful of not hurting other people around us.

    GOD bless you!

  9. Thanks for writing this…wonderful message; tastes good to the soul ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s something I’ve been waiting on God for over 2 years now, and this is great encouragement; you have no idea! ๐Ÿ˜€ There have been plenty of moments when I’ve been tempted to take matters into my own hands–to the point of praying for God to cause the death of whatever bright “idea” my brain conjures up because I don’t trust myself anymore these days, especially when I’m tired or really very anxious for something to manifest… I’m gonna keep waiting though; this is what evokes the most peace in my heart—when I just trust him and keep waiting.

    God bless you!

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