Monday, June 11, 2007

Abraham & Sarah: Part 2

In case you read the last post and fell into a state of hopeless desperation at your lack of single-minded obedience, I will examine a situation in the marriage of Abraham and Sarah that just might give you some hope, and make you feel somewhat normal.

In the first part of Genesis 12 we see the account of God's call on Abraham's life. God commanded Abraham to leave his home and go to some strange land that God would lead him to. We also see that Sarah followed her husband on this journey of faith. God commanded, and Abraham and Sarah obeyed. If we leave the story at that, then the glory may seem to fall on Abraham and Sarah. We may be tempted to glorify their obedience instead of God's grace. Don't fear. God doesn't even let us get out of chapter 12 before he shows us how dependent on God Abraham and Sarah are.

It just so happened that there was a famine in the land to which Abraham was called. Facing hunger, Abraham decided to go down to Egypt in search of better accommodations. That doesn't seem like such a big deal. If one is hungry, he looks for food. There's a catch. As they were entering Egypt, Abraham said, "I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake" (Gen. 12:12-13).

That seems strange. But Sarah, the loving, fearless wife must have seen the twisted logic in it and agreed to it. What happened? The Egyptians saw that Sarah was very beautiful and she was taken into the house of Pharaoh (the king). And Abraham was given "sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. So as predicted, Abraham was taken good care of because Pharaoh thought he was Sarah's brother. What a great idea! No more hunger pains! No more fearing the future! No more wandering. Just hang out in Egypt with all your new possessions. Abraham had it all. Wait, what was he lacking?...

His wife! Abraham wandered down to Egypt and lost his wife - the wife that all the families of the world were supposed to be blessed through. Not good. We see from Genesis 12 a couple that exercised some level of faith in God, yet were absolutely dependent on God for any hope of deliverance. Any glory we were about to give to Abraham and Sarah for being such a smart, righteous, faithful, stand-out couple has faded quickly. Despite their faithful obedience, it didn't take long for Abraham and Sarah to get themselves into an absolute mess.

I'll ruin the surprise ending and just let you know that God delivered Abraham and Sarah from Egypt without any harm coming to either. Pharaoh didn't want God on his back. In fact, when it was revealed to Pharaoh that Sarah was Abraham's wife, he sent them out of Egypt, but allowed them to keep all the riches that Abraham had acquired. So Abraham and Sarah entered Egypt starving, got themselves into serious, hopeless trouble, and left Egypt with extraordinary wealth. That is the power of God to save.

What's the moral of the story for us today? How many couples are there who think they've really blown it? They've made a serious mess of their life. Maybe it's foolish debt and the stress that comes as a result. It is amazing how heavy a little stack of papers can be. Maybe it's an affair, and the question of whether life can be put back together. Maybe it's the constant little bickering that seems insurmountable. Maybe it's the sense that no matter how hard they try, they can't seem to figure out what they're supposed to be doing.

Whatever problems you may be going through in your marriage, know this: God delivers. You can't make a mess that is hopeless if you are a child of God. Hopeless has no place in the Christian realm. Hopeless is the word Christians use to describe those outside of Christ. You may be burdened, but don't fret. God is on your side. You may make messes, but don't worry. God is willing and able to deliver. Won't you humbly trust your life, with all its triumphs and trials, attainments and afflictions to the God who's working it all out for your good?

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