I ended last week’s blog pointing out that Abraham was a man just like you and me. In the same vein, he and his wife, Sarah, faced a lot of challenges and tests that couples and parents face today. They faced:
In Genesis 15, ten years after God promised Abram that He would make him into a great nation, Abram tells the Lord, “I remain childless” (v. 2). The Lord “took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them… So shall your offspring be” (v.5). When you’re feeling down, look up! God has worked through a lot of couples in the Bible who could not have children. He can use your story of infertility for His glory!
Abram and Sarai wanted a child. They were frustrated, impatient, and got tired of waiting on God. At the beginning of Genesis 16, we read that Sarai decided to help God out. She suggested that Abram have a child with her maidservant, Hagar. Instead of Abram saying, “I don’t think this is a good idea,” he said, “Yes dear. Whatever you want!” Did it make them happy? Of course not. Sin never turns out the way you planned. The good news is that Abram and Sarai made it. There are many couples who choose to recover, rebuild, and come out after infidelity even stronger with God’s help.
In Genesis 16:5 we read that Sarai becomes insecure with Hagar now pregnant. Sin has consequences and insecurity makes you want what is not yours. In the end, Hagar and her son, Ishmael, go to Egypt and reject the God of Abraham. The entire religion of Islam is built on the insecurity of Ishmael. It’s so important for us to remember that God has enough blessing to go around!
Abram’s nephew, Lot, chose Sodom as the place he’d live, ignoring the dangers to his family. He was not thinking of the best place to raise his girls, but the best place to raise his goats! God told Abram in Genesis 18 what was about to happen to Sodom, and Abram pleaded with God on Lot’s behalf. That is the church in today’s society. God is still looking for people who will stand in the gap and pray in an immoral society.
The final thing we see Abram and Sarai facing is inconsistency. Twice he lied about her being his wife. A half-truth is a whole lie. We read it in Genesis 12 and again in Genesis 20. Even though Abraham lapsed back into sin, he did not live in sin. There is a difference between a lapse of sin and a lifestyle of sin. The Bible does not hide or cover up the sins of the saints. We see their mistakes, but praise God we see His mercy! Abraham and Sarah made it and you can too with God’s help! Throughout their story we see that God showed Himself as:
The God Who Sees
In Genesis 16:13, Hagar “gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me….’” She was single, pregnant, and had no place to go. When she had no one else and nowhere to turn, God was there to reassure her. In spite of the problems and conflict that would come through Ishmael, Hagar still knew God was El Roi. You cannot shock God. He has seen it all, heard it all, and He can handle it all! God sees the blended families. God cares for the single mom like Hagar. God sees, hears, and cares for you.
The God Who Is Enough
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers’” (Gen. 17:1-2). This is the first place El Shaddai is used in the Bible. It means that God is all-powerful and all-sufficient. He is more than enough to meet your need. Nothing is impossible with God! In the next few verses God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. When you have an encounter with God He changes you. Even when God does not change your circumstances God can still change you!
The God Who Provides
In Genesis 21, God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah is fulfilled. God gave them a miracle child named Isaac. Then, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son. There is not a stronger test in all the Bible! Right as Abraham was getting ready to sacrifice Isaac, God sent a ram. “And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide” (Gen. 22:14). Provision comes from two Latin words. Pro means ahead. Vision means to look. God is looking ahead for you. As Abraham and Isaac started up one side of the mountain, God was sending a ram up the other side! God made a ram’s horns to not get caught in a thicket, but God made a bush that could hold that ram! You can trust God’s will and His timing!