I love how God shows me new things in familiar stories in the Bible. I also love how His timing is always perfect - just what I need on the day I need it. He's very cool like that! :)
This summer, I've been in limbo - waiting to hear about a job that could, if everything came through, meet our financial needs. To be completely honest, I've been really tired this spring and summer. Working three different jobs with the stress of weekly deadlines and trying to run a household and keep the dog from becoming one giant mat has been difficult for me.
Add to that, the nagging feeling that plagues me that I should be doing more, accomplishing more, etc. and, well, I was feeling very weary.
I am not a high energy person in the best of circumstances. I have two speeds - slow and backwards. Seriously.
So, the idea of a possible solution with much less stress seemed to me like an oasis in a particularly long stretch of desert. I've been struggling with how long this process has dragged on and realized, quite recently, how much my faith was resting on this job rather than God.
It's a good thing God pointed that out to me the other week because this week, I found out the job fell through. Well, it fell through in the form that would have helped us the most. I'm not sure what will happen now, and I felt an overwhelming urge to sit down, give up and have a good cry - or maybe throw something large against a convenient wall (but since we're staying in someone else's condo, that didn't seem like a terribly good idea!)
Nothing like a little bad news to make your vacation enjoyable!
So what does my little dilemma (and I realize it IS little compared to people struggling with cancer or other weighty matters) have to do with a story in the Bible? Strangely, a whole lot!
My knee jerk reaction to news like this is to freak out and either run around frantically trying to fix it OR to sit down in despair and give up. It's not that I don't want to respond with peace, serenity and faith, but old habits are hard to break.
Good thing God had just showed me some interesting truths in the story of Hagar. Hagar, if you are not familiar with her, was Sarah's maid. Sarah was Abraham's wife. Confused yet?
Basically, Abraham and Sarah couldn't have any children - despite God's covenant promise that He would use Abraham as the father of a great nation, namely the nation of Israel. That's a bit difficult if you can't have any children.
So, after years of waiting, Sarah decided she had a better idea (it's always a red flag when you start to "help" God out). She decided to give her maid Hagar to Abraham to have a child by Hagar and then Sarah could claim the child for her own.(You can find this story in Genesis 16)
Apparently, surrogacy is not a new idea. The difference is Hagar - being a servant - didn't have much choice in the matter. The only problem was, when Hagar became pregnant this caused a bit of an issue between Hagar and Sarah. Eventually, Sarah went to Abraham with the squabble and he basically said, "She's your maid - do what you think is right."
What was "right" to Sarah was apparently to treat Hagar so terribly, that the young woman ran away into the desert. You have to be pretty desperate to run into the desert.
This is honestly, one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament. Here is Hagar, an Egyptian maid - basically as low on the social hierarchy totem pole as you can get. She's on the run from her mistress who is treating her abominably (probably because of Hagar's own behavior because Scripture says once Hagar became pregnant, she despised Sara). And God appears to her. He speaks to her through an angel and sends her back to Sarah and tells her that her son Ishmael will be the father of a great nation, too.
Hagar calls God, El Roi - the God who sees me. I love this name for God. It always amazes me that God sees me. He sees my difficulties and He sees my struggles, and most amazing of all, He really cares.
This story I was very familiar with because, as I said, it's one of my favorites. Well, Hagar figures in another story but I hadn't paid as close attention to this one.
We fast forward about 10-15 years, (this story is found in Genesis 21) and Sara has had her own little bundle - Isaac. As you may have guessed, there were still some difficulties in the house of Abraham, what with the maid and her son and Sara and her son. I'm sure you can see how this would make Sister Wives look tame in comparison.
Ishmael is the firstborn, but Isaac is the son of promise. Lots of room for conflict, and that conflict came to a head during a party. (doesn't it always seem like the worst family conflicts end up being around a celebration or a holiday?)
Isaac was weaned, and Abraham decides to throw a big party to celebrate. During the party, Sarah looks over and Ishmael is making fun of little Isaac. I have no idea if this was mean-spirited or if it was all in fun, (after all Ishmael has been displaced and I'm sure there was some sibling rivalry going on egged on by the moms), but it doesn't matter. Sarah has had enough and demands that Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away. So, even though it breaks his heart, on the advice of God, Abe sends them away.
Hagar and Ishmael wander in the wilderness until they run out of food and water. Knowing that they would both die, Hagar puts her son under a bush and sits down a little ways away so she wouldn't have to watch. Her son starts crying out. Isn't that a pitiful picture?
God appears to her again and asks, "What is the matter with you Hagar?" I'm sure Hagar wanted to either laugh or cry at this question. Wasn't it obvious what the matter was? She and her son - the son God had promised her would father a great nation of his own by the way - have been kicked out into the desert and since the little bit of provision given to them has run out, they are going to die. THAT would be what's the matter.
It was at this point that God opens Hagar's eyes and she saw a well of water. You'll notice that Hagar's circumstances never changed- the well had apparently been there all along but because of her despair and fear, she never even saw it. Not until God opens her eyes did she see that the answer to her problem that was there all along.
It's so interesting to me that in the first story, Hagar realizes that God sees her, and in the second story, God opens Hagar's eyes so she can see His provision. Cool, huh?
In my own situation, it would be really easy for me to want to give up, to throw up my hands and say that I had been let down one too many times in regards to a job, but God wants me to remember that He sees me and I need to open my eyes to His resources that I won't even be aware of if I sit down and give up
In Micah 7:7, it says, "But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me."
So, instead of giving up in defeat or frantically running around trying to fix it, I want to wait expectantly for what God has in mind. His plans are better than mine could ever be, even if I can't always see it right away. Unlike people or circumstances, God never lets us down.
~ Blessings, Bronte