Thursday, October 09, 2008

Genesis 21:12-14 The Game's Up.

Genesis 21:12-14: But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Are you distressed as Abraham was at the end of the previous passage we looked at? Then find the “But God” in your life. God spoke to Abraham and said, “Don’t be distressed. Go ahead and do what your wife is asking of you. You will still be blessed. I’m intending to keep My promise to make your descendants many through your son Isaac. And by the way, from Ishmael, I will make a great nation as well – because he too is your descendant.”

What a solution. It’s as if God was saying “Look, don’t worry. What others want for you out of personal fear or greed, I’ll turn it into a blessing for you.” As I write this today, I realize it has been just over one whole year since, with the support of my Board and as Executive Director of a Mission, I took the step of letting someone go under very difficult circumstances. To this very day, I continue to have to deal with those that questioned the action we took as an organization. My human instinct is to be distressed and to take matters into my own hands. But through the counsel of my good friend and board chairperson, as well as my time with God and His Word, I am able to trust God for His blessing in all of this. I found the “But God” in it.

So Abraham got up early and put together the most important “care basket” he would ever assemble and gave them to Hagar for her and his son. Abraham’s hospitality continued in very difficult times. Then he gave his son, Ishmael, to Hagar. Then he sent them away as Sarah had asked him to do and as God had agreed that he should do.

As I read this verse, I could not help of thinking of another time in history, many years later, when another Father sent His Son away on a very special mission. You can read about it in the New Testament yourself. I am sure that Father was distressed about where and to what end He was sending His Son, but He knew it was the best thing He could for all of us.

Hagar left Abraham’s household with his son, Ishmael and Scripture tells us she wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. This is the first reference to this place in the Bible. It is a city at the south edge of Israel, on the southern border of Palestine, and it literally means “well of the (sevenfold) oath.” Several wells were found there in later years. The “other woman” is forced to leave. The sin of her master and mistress resulted in her wandering in the wilderness with the child she bore, Abraham being saddened perhaps the rest of his life, and Sarah missing out on God’s full joy in her own life.

It took me fifty years of living to find out that sin never pays off and it always pays back. It hurts people. It scars relationships. It can curtail ministry for many years. But if we confess our sin, it is also a time when God can let us discover the “But God” for our lives.

Are you distressed today? Many are. The great global market meltdown of September 2008 caused millions to panic out of shear fear. But, that was not the case for the real believer in God. Our Father Who is in heaven, takes all fear away. While we are not told what Abraham went through after Hagar departed, we know his faith allowed him to go on living for, and worshipping, his Maker.

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