Freedom in the Desert
“‘Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.’ But God said to him, ‘Do not be distressed about the boy and your maidservant. I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring’” Gen. 21:10-13.
For anyone who feels this morning that your situation is leading you right into disaster, take heart! Sarah demanded that Abraham banish their maidservant Hagar and the son she had conceived with Abraham. When Abraham took this heartbreaking situation to God, he was told that all would be alright. God was going to allow the worst case scenario for Hagar and Ishmael. At first glance it seems unfair…unjustified…unimaginable. But, we must turn the prism to a different angle. Abraham was no more than a master to Hagar and Hagar was no more than a servant to Sarah who hated her. Ishmael would never be more than that boy of that maidservant. He would always live in the shadow of Isaac just as Hagar would always live in the shadow of Sarah. So the story continues…Hagar and Ishmael found themselves in the desert with no provisions…no one who cared…and what seemed to be no life ahead. But God revealed Himself to her as her new Master, their new Father, and Provider. ‘Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation…’ God was with the boy as he grew up.’ Gen. 21:20.
Before Jeremiah 29:11 was ever penned the Lord was demonstrating this principle in the life of Hagar and Ishmael. ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ What seemed like life with Abraham and Sarah was really less than God’s abundance, and what seemed like the desert became life with God determining their future…not man. Whatever circumstance feels like life is being derailed we must look to this story with hope and encouragement. The life of freedom that Hagar and Ishmael experienced could have only happened after the situation forced them into the desert. It was there that they experienced God at His best.
Our difficulties birth the need for God, and provide the backdrop for Christ to become bigger through our faith. If we are angry with our circumstances, it could be that we do not see God as love, so we miss out on His comfort. If we fret and worry, we may have convinced ourselves that He is not able, so we miss out on His peace. If we move ahead of Him, we have convinced ourselves that He is not wise in His decisions, so we miss out on His guidance. We will experience God at the depth that we believe in His abilities and character. So as we consider our challenges this morning, let us allow God to be the expanding and emerging God-power that He is, trusting Jeremiah 29:11 for our lives each and every day.
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