Sunday, October 26, 2008

When Life Doesn't Measure Up -- Hope Chronicles 73

"When our prayers seem to go unheeded, we can learn to live in unexpectant apathy. We go through the motions, but we're not convinced that God will bless us. Bottom line, ugly truth: We don't really trust God"

Carolyn McCulley

Have you ever felt like the above quote? Life isn't what you anticipated when you were a child. You're not an Olympic gymnast and couldn't do a cart wheel to save your life. No Nobel Prize is coming your way. Your job looks nothing like you expected. And then there are your adult expectations. It's impossible to make ends meet. Your friends are busy and you've lost touch. Your spouse is driving you crazy or maybe it is the lack of one that is doing you in. We've prayed but things we desperately desire are out of reach.

I think this is how Sarah in the Old Testament felt. In Genesis 11 we are introduced to Abram and Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah). Immediately on the heels of finding out that Sarai is Abram's wife, we are told that she is barren. Combine this with the fact that she lived in a time and culture that defined a woman's worth by the number of sons she bore her husband. I'd wager she felt pretty insecure. Often it is our insecurities that drive our most desperate actions.

God called Abram out of his homeland and into the land of Canaan when he was 75. Over the years God did amazing things in Abram's life. In Genesis 15, we find God initiating a covenant with Abram. When Abrams tells God his servant will inherit since he doesn't have children, God promises him otherwise in Genesis 15:4-6.

"This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars -- if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

Abram believed the Lord and he credited it to him as righteousness. (NIV)

It's an amazing promise. I can imagine Abram rushing off to tell Sarai and Sarai wondering if Abram had been dipping into the good wine.

Years later there is still no baby. With arms so empty it hurt, Sarai decided she would do God a favor and help him out. She had Abram sleep with her maidservant, Hagar. Just like anytime we try to "help God out" for our own benefit, Sarai's plan made a mess. As soon as Hagar became pregnant, Sarai began to despise Hagar. Hagar went on to bear Ishmael and in turn his sons became the forebears of Islam. Thousands of years later there remains a deep animosity between Hagar and Sara's offspring.

God is not one to go back on His promises. 2 Timothy 2:13 says the following:

If we are faithless he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

God promised once. Once should have been enough but sometimes God reiterates his promise. Abraham has a visit from a trio of strangers. Through them God tells Abraham that they will return the next year and that by then Sarah will have a son.

Up to this point, scripture is silent on if Sarah ever believed the promise of a son. As she eaves drops on the conversation at the flap of the tent, she is incredulous. Sarah dares to laugh at God. Amazingly, God is not deterred by the unbelief displayed in that laughter. Within a year, Sarah has given girth to Isaac.

In what areas are you living in unexpectant apathy? Where are you laughing at God? Perhaps today is a good day to talk to God about that area.

More to come on "When Life Doesn't Measure Up."


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