This week's journey with Abram brings us to Genesis chapter 16 and the story of Hagar. My friend Susan has a great post today on waiting for God. I don't think it's possible to be alive and not experience waiting for God at some point in time. Through the years, I have lost count of how many times I have sat in God's waiting room. Yet again, here we sit, waiting for his word on whether or not we can move back to Washington. We've been waiting about 9 years now. Still, I would like to hope that my Husband and I would not go to the measures that Abram and Sarai took!
Naturally, in our day and age and in our culture, we would not find it acceptable for my Husband to acquire a concubine like Hagar. But, can you say that you have never taken an action to rush God's timing or will? Put in that perspective, I feel humbled. Some of the biggest messes I have found myself in, have occurred when I tried to take over from God and figure things out myself.
The mess Abram and Sarai find themselves in is a result of Abram's earlier lies and adventures in Egypt. Hagar, an Egyptian slave, likely was one of the maidservants gifted to them by Pharaoh. Can you imagine how you would feel if you had to share your home and husband with his mistress? In Sarai's shoes, I think I would have wanted to scratch Hagar's eyes out. Hagar may have taunted Sarai, but her conception of a child with Abram was not a sin the culture of the day. She did as her mistress commanded her. The law of the time allowed Sarai to punish Hagar, but not kill her.
Admittedly, I find it hard to relate to Hagar, but God showed amazing compassion and love (in spite of liberal interpretations of the Bible saying that the God of the OT was a misogynist!) to her. She must have felt alone, abandoned, lost, scared and that quite possibly she could die on her way to Egypt or when she arrived.
God heard Hagar's cry. He met her in the desert and spoke with her face to face. Our pastor said that this is the only place in the bible where someone gives God a name - El Roi - The God Who Sees Me! The name He gives her son - Ishmael - means God hears.
He sees me.
He sees you.
How powerful is that? I have spent most of my life feeling "invisible", insignificant and misunderstood, but the God of all the Universe sees me! Doesn't it feel good to know that we are not really invisible, forgotten and misunderstood. The God who created us is watching, working things together for good in our lives and sees our needs even before we can verbalize them. My job is to trust that He does know what He is doing and to wait for His will and His timing.
This is the lesson that Abram and Sarai had to learn in heartache and trial. We would do good to watch their missteps and not re-create them, but it seems like it is human nature to learn through mistakes.
Do you see a theme here? Abram/Abraham needs to learn to trust God. It doesn't come naturally does it? There are trials in life that test our trust and faith. In the end (see Hebrews) Abraham is considered faithful and his faithfulness is credited to Him as righteousness. Our righteousness comes from Christ alone, but it is no less important for us to believe, trust and walk in faith. For me there is comfort in knowing that Abraham was not successful in his first test, but that he improved in time. That means there is hope for me! :o)
Pastor Mike has done an excellent job each week summarizing how we can apply the Biblical truths in each lesson to our lives today:
1. We should wait patiently on God's timing to fulfill His promises. (2 Peter 3:8-9) If we are waiting there is a good reason. God isn't just "twiddling" His thumbs.
2. We should not think that God needs our help to fulfill His promises. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He makes everything beautiful in His time.
3. We should trust God to fulfill His promises even if it will take a miracle. (Genesis 18:14a)
4. We should be comforted by this reminder that God sees our troubles and desires to rescue us.
Lastly, he shared a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a wise Christian martyr:
"But everything has its time, and the main thing is that we keep in step with God, and do not keep on pressing a few steps ahead - nor keep dawdling a step behind. It's presumptuous to want everything at once..." (Letters and Papers From Prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, page 169)