Monday, October 12, 2009
Current Study: Suffering
Today’s Topic: God Sees
Scripture Reading: Genesis 16:13 (NIV) She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
For several days now we have been looking at the issue of suffering. I want to share something with you today that is still in that context, but not from First Peter where we have been studying. This comes from much earlier in the history of the world, yet the lesson is still a powerful one. Those of you who were in church yesterday have already been taking this to heart.
The story of Abraham in the book of Genesis teaches us some great lessons about faith. It also teaches us about the consequences of making decisions based on our own insights and rationale rather than by faith. Abraham’s life is filled with great faith and terrible failures based on human reason.
One such failure occurs in Genesis 16, when Abraham is convinced by his wife Sarah that they must get involved in fulfilling the promise of God to have a son. Sarah’s handmaiden Hagar is given to Abraham as a wife, and because she was a slave, her children would be legally the children of Sarah. After becoming pregnant, Hagar’s mistreatment of Sarah results in Sarah mistreating her and forcing her to leave the family.
Tension, discord, and even verbal abuse were the products of faithlessness. People were being hurt. A family was broken apart. A husband lost respect and gave up his authority to lead the family. It was all because Abraham failed to wait for God to accomplish His purpose in His time and took matters into his own hands.
As pregnant Hagar was running away, Jesus Christ – the Angel of the LORD – found her. After a short encounter, Hagar gives God a name that was significant. She calls God El Roi, which means The God who sees. I have been extremely blessed by this story, because it shows me that during the worst of times, God still sees me, and the knowledge of that provides me the strength to carry on.
For those of you that missed yesterday, or who don’t attend our church, here were the points that God laid on my heart that will bring me to the concluding point in a moment. Go to Genesis 16 and read the story, then come back and notice the following things:
1. God seeks us – He went looking for Hagar, and He is constantly looking for you no matter where or from what you are running.
2. God embraces us – He engaged Hagar in conversation at the point of her need. He gave her direction. He will do the same for you.
3. God encourages us – He told her about the future of her son’s life, but not until He had told her what to name him – Ishmael – which means God hears. Even thought the future wasn’t great for her son, she focused on God’s promise that He hears no matter what the circumstances of life.
4. God sends us – He gave her the strength to go back and continue to be faithful.
Do you see it? God Seeks, God Embraces, God Encourages, and God Sends. God SEES! As a result, you need to know and believe three things:
1. God sees your past and he accepts you.
2. God sees your predicament and He affirms you.
3. God sees your prospects and He assures you.
Don’t just skim over those three things. Go back and really take them to heart. When you do you will discover the incredible truth that God sees you and because He does, you can get through whatever He brings into your life. Just look at Hagar – she was told by God to go back to Sarah and submit to her. There is no promise that Sarah will change. There is no assurance that things will be different. There is only the peace that comes from knowing that God sees, and that He hears, and that He is in control. There is only faith! And she obeyed.
This can be a touchy subject, because I completely understand the abusive predicaments some people are in, and agree that safety is a huge consideration. However, many of our choices to escape difficult and troublesome situations are not made because God told us to move on, but we convinced ourselves to bring about an outcome that pleases us. In other words, we really didn’t believe that God sees our situation and that He really cares to do anything about it.
Sadly, many of us do not really live by faith. That needs to change. God sees you where you are. He accepts you. He affirms you. He assures you that He is in control of the outcome. Let go! Trust God. He sees.