Deliverance writ small and large
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The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.
17 God heard the boy crying,and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” – Genesis 21:8-18
Do you ever get tired of doing good? Doing the right thing? Helping someone who is in trouble? Responding to the latest human tragedy? Giving to relieve the latest natural disaster victims? It’s called compassion fatigue. And it moves some of us simply to tune out the pleas. The heart-wrenching photo of the child with the cleft pallet. The African toddler with pleading eyes and a distended belly due to starvation. We can’t help them all, so we help those we can and tune out the others. Perhaps we pray for them. Maybe we even decry the fact that groups will play on our emotions to gain financial support.
But God does not do any of that. In fact, while he comes to the aid of Hagar, he also has a greater deliverance – once and for all – in store for lost, broken, desperate, and distressed mankind. But the end has not yet come. We have a lifetime – however long that may be – in front of us until that redemption is consummated. And God has people in place to help us along the way.
He will send Hagar away, but Abraham will see to it that she is not sent away empty-handed. And when the food and water runs out, Hagar sits crying, and Ishmael is put far away to die. In that moment God calls her to continue on, and promises that even Ishmael will have a great future.
The final deliverance is yet to come. But when the time is right, Jesus will offer himself as the fulfillment of all that God intends and then die as the substitute for all that we have failed to do, or all that is amiss that we have done, said, or thought. Through Jesus, God will reclaim that which is rightfully his, restore us to a place of honor and holiness, and we will rejoice for all eternity in his lovingkindness and grace.
There will be times of sadness and distress along life’s way. We may be put into difficult and near hopeless situations. At those times, the slightest breeze can cool our sweaty brows, and a kindness of someone may be as a cup of refreshing water. Then we must take courage, stand again, and move forward with the assurance of God’s presence, and the hope of the ultimate deliverance.
I’m wondering who will bring that refreshing cup of water to me today. And I’m thankful for Jesus who give me grace and hope.