An Isaac, not an Ishmael

You may remember that while back I shared about how my infertility has grown for me an appreciation for and kinship with Sarah [as in, the Sarah, from Genesis]. I read a little quick line in a book recently that really jumped at my heart.

heb11.1The book has nothing to do with infertility. It’s called Unveiling Grace: The Story of How we Found our Way out of the Mormon Church, by Lynn Wilder. [Side note: I am nearing the end of this book, and it has been fascinating. If you want to read something interesting and different, I highly recommend it. It’s about a Mormon family, the mother of which was a BYU professor, who little by little found their way to the biblical Jesus and the biblical gospel.]

At one point, she’s telling of how she suffered multiple miscarriages and a difficult pregnancy before finally conceiving their four children. When she thought she was losing her third child in her sixteenth week, she was prayed over by church elders, who basically just prayed that she would have enough faith to make God bless her — it was all in her power. She soon determined to put her faith in God’s power instead, saying,

This child would be a product of grace, not works. An Isaac, not an Ishmael.

This is actually not even a big part of the book, but that line was so loud to me when I read it, it stopped me in my tracks. What a powerful resolution — I will not be Sarah #1, doing all I can to get what I want, in spite of God’s promise to work for my good. No, I’ll be Sarah #2 — having faith that He will do what He said and leaving it there. You may get a baby either way, like Sarah did, but which way do you really want to get him?


…After I wrote everything above, within a couple days I had a chance to put it into practice. I was in bed unable to sleep (yes, if you’ve been reading for a while you may realize sleeplessness is a theme of my life), and I started worry about the baby situation (sleepless worry is an even greater theme). Mainly, tmi, I started worrying about if we had missed ovulation that week. I was crunching numbers, symptoms and days in my head, trying to assure myself that we didn’t miss it. Then I entered into a brief tug-of-war with my body, wanting to jump up and check my fertility calendar online for comfort. That’s when an inner voice called to me, “An Isaac, not an Ishmael.” I repeated these words to myself, asking God to lift this burden to control and seek hope in things other than Him. I don’t want to be Sarah, freaking out and running to Hagar to get the baby God had promised her. I want to be the other Sarah, waiting on the Lord and receiving His promise by His hand. Soon I fell asleep, and in the morning I awoke with great peace on my heart — yes, this baby, whenever he comes, will be an Isaac, not an Ishmael. 


Here’s a suggested Bible Study on Abraham and Sarah’s faith:

One thought on “An Isaac, not an Ishmael

  1. I absolutely love this. Several of our friends are struggling with infertility right now- I found your blog in the midst of trying to find good resources for them. It’s been such an encouragement for me as well. “An Isaac, not an Ishmael” applies to almost everything…that just really struck me! One of those thought-changing moments. Thank you for sharing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s