Hagar was the Egyptian maid of Sarai, Abraham’s wife. She was treated like property. Sarai desperately wanted a child and would use whatever means she could to have one. She saw Hagar as a means to an end. Hagar became pregnant and was enjoying the status. Sarai got what she wanted, but as often happens when we get what we want, she was miserable. Suddenly the new uncomfortable situation was all Abraham’s fault. Abraham, being the “strong” leader that he was, told Sarai to do what she wanted with Hagar. All scripture says is “So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.”
Hagar’s instinct was to get back home. She was running back to Egypt. She wasn’t looking for God, but God found her. Hagar was fleeing from the trouble, but God was working in the midst of it. What Hagar found unbearable was bearable because of God. God promised to “multiply (her) descendants so that they shall be too many to count.” (v. 10) God had taken heed of Hagar’s affliction. Life would be difficult, but God was working.
Then an amazing thing happens. Hagar gives God a name. Elroi – “Thou art a God who sees.” (v. 13) We have confidence that in the midst of our trouble God sees us.
Hagar’s trouble wasn’t over. She would go back to her mistress. Sarai would eventually send Hagar away again, but God would be with her throughout the difficult journey.
When God sent his son as a baby in Bethlehem his name was called “Immanuel, God with us.” (Matt. 1:23) Amazing! Whatever your difficulty know that God sees. He won’t always remove us from the trouble but He will be with us. What better place than in His presence?
I sought out a surgeon to fix my broken ankle. He examined the bone, made a plan and scheduled the surgery. The surgery was uneventful. Things went as planned. They gave me four pages of very specific written instructions, “the number” to call if we had any trouble and waved good-bye as my husband took me home. Within hours the trouble began.
It took two days for us to convince them there was a problem. I had an allergic reaction to the first pain killer. The second pain killer sent me into another tailspin and I was unable to eat more than a few spoonfuls at a time. by day three I was so weak I was having trouble communicating. late into the third day an ambulance was called and I spent five hours in the ER. They sent me home with more adjustments to my medications and as I continued to not improve my family did their own research and came up with a treatment plan. By day five I was finally turning a corner. Through all of this we had called “the number” nine times. Usually we got an answering machine. A receptionist would then call us back and forward our complaint on. Half of the time they never called back. We talked to many nurses who were irritated at the frequency of our calls and assumed we were not following the plain instructions we had been given. We were told to call our pharmacist, our family doctor etc. In all of those conversations not once did our surgeon call us back or speak to us on the phone.
My post-op appointment was scheduled for day nine. There was the surgeon. He appeared to be in good health. (We were afraid he had been in a tragic accident.) My husband mentioned that the recovery had been hard. “Yes,” the surgeon responded. “I heard about all your trouble.” Nothing more was said. He said things looked good and he would see me in three weeks.
There is another surgeon. This one seeks me out. He sees my brokenness. I am content to leave it. He insists on addressing the fractured pieces one by one, making the cuts, realigning the bones, making it whole and binding it tight. He has written a book of instructions and encouragement. He sits with me as I heal and watches over me as I sleep. He gently wipes the tears as they fall from the pain of the procedure He is determined to see through. He grieves over the painful work that must be done, but He presses on, never leaving me, bringing others to encourage and teach me through each operation. The process is slow, painful and hard, but the surgeon is always right there. Carefully watching and adjusting as I respond to Him.
The first surgeon was skilled. He did the job he set out to do. I sought the “provision” of His skill and he obliged. The second surgeon offers something much more valuable. He offers His “presence”. We often want God’s “provision” when His deepest desire is to share His “presence” with us. May you learn to seek this God who is determined to “be with you”.
“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b – See also Matthew 1:28 & Revelation 21:3
Joseph, who was from a dysfunctional family, lived a life of integrity. Several times in scripture it mentions “the Lord was with him”. His life was anything but smooth sailing, but the Lord was with him.
The Lord was with him when he was sold into slavery.
The Lord was with Him when He worked in Potiphar’s house.
The Lord was with him when he was falsely accused.
The Lord was with him when he was in jail.
The Lord was with him when he interpreted the dreams.
The Lord was with him when he was forgotten by men.
The Lord was with him when he worked for Pharaoh.
He did nothing to deserve trouble. Yet, God was kind to Joseph by being unkind. God was kind to Joseph’s family by saving them from the famine. God was kind to the Egyptians by saving them from starvation. God was kind to Joseph by allowing him to be part of God’s plan to bring deliverance. There is no mention of Joseph doubting God’s goodness. There is no hint of bitterness. After the death of his father Joseph reassures his brothers by telling them. “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Gen. 50:20)
Sometimes trouble comes to my life. I don’t know why most things happen, but…
I do know God is kind.
I do know that God is sovereign.
I do know that sometimes God is up to something I don’t understand.
I do know that God is with me.
That simply needs to be enough.