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God is Merciful

And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.

Genesis 21:13
God is Merciful Book Cover

Everyone experiences hardship. To be human is to face challenges, unknowns, and suffering.

Hardships are universal experiences. What is not universal is how we respond. The temptations may be the same, but our responses do not have to be.

It does not take long for us to see Abram pull back when he and his family hit a hardship (Genesis 12:10–16). As a famine hit the land, they took a detour in following God’s direction and went to Egypt. Not only did Abram take a detour, but he also moved into deceit to protect himself from further hardship.

When we come into hardships in our lives, we are tempted to take detours, to figure out a different way forward. There is wisdom in taking care of our families, those we love, and even strangers and least of these, but as we take these detours, we may consider whether we are supposed to.

Wisdom and fear can sometimes look incredibly similar. Wisdom comes from a place of peace and courage. Fear sounds like:

What will happen to us? Wisdom asks, God, how do you want us to move forward? Fear says, If we do not do this, then that will surely happen. Wisdom asks, God, show us the next steps as we entrust to you whatever will come.

As you read Abram’s story, note how his detour is led by fear and this fear leads to deceit. His story is a reminder that fear, need for control, and deception lead one to another, cascading down, not only causing harm for us, but also for those around us.

The consequences of how we respond to hardship affect those around us. We see this with Sarai, Pharaoh and his house, and later in the suffering of Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 16:1–6). Sarai became a concubine of Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh and his household were afflicted with plagues. Later, Hagar and Ishmael were mistreated harshly and unjustly.

Abram’s actions mattered. And with great gratitude we see God’s mercy and grace as he freed Sarai (twice), lifted the affliction off of Pharaoh and his house, and ministered to Hagar and Ishmael, giving them promises as well. Abram’s detours and deceit would not be the last word in their lives.

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Daily Question

When you hit hardships, what do you typically do? Do you attempt to take over, ignoring how God has been leading and guiding? Do you deceive those around you to ease your fears? In hardships, how can you discern between walking in wisdom and following your fear?

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Comments (8)

When I face hardships, I usually freeze at first. I temporarily forget about the goodness of God and that He will always be there for me. Then I usually take over and start researching or asking people their opinions of my situation. I often ignore how God has been leading and guiding me and try to find answers elsewhere. Eventually, I return to God and listen to what he has to say. I know when I am following my fear when I don’t have any peace. When I am walking in wisdom, I always have peace.

When hardships hit I pray, trust, worry, talk to others, try to deal with it on my own, lament… all sorts of things. I wish I could just seek God and rest knowing He is in control. I probably spend more time in fear than wisdom. I think more time spent with God in His word and in silence would help me discern His voice so I can walk in wisdom. It’s easy to pray all sorts of prayers but to stop, be quiet, and listen is so difficult sometimes!

When I hit hardships, I tend to do what Abraham did – find another way out of it. I try to ease the pain and figure things out myself. I think I can discern between walking in wisdom and following in fear by looking at how closely I have been clinging to God. I can look back and see if I turned to Him in prayer and asked Him to direct me, or if I tried to make my own path and come up with my own solutions.

Ditto to all of the comments. Why do we try to fix everything? God has proved his love and faithfulness over and over, yet we try to control our circumstances nonetheless. After the initial human actions, then I decide to walk in wisdom and seek the Lord’s plans. Truth be known, with fear in tow. I am not proud of my actions, and I know better.

When I hit hardship I generally get sad or angry. I might pray or ask others to pray with me, but I never feel God is leading me one way or another. I do not lie or deceive others just to ease my fear – there’s no help in that. Usually fear is a spontaneous action whereas wisdom takes patience to alliviate the hardship. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever faced, what others would see, as a hardship.

That statement “fear and wisdom look very similar” feels very real to me. Decisions we make in haste are usually made from fear. God, help me not to step into anything you don’t want me to. Help me to respond from a place of peace and courage. So that I can know you are leading me. When I bring all things to God in prayer and act patiently, He is faithful. Every time. I have no reason to doubt or rush ahead.

I, so easily, ease into my fears. My prayer is that my first reaction will be to pray to God for wisdom and guidance to understand how He wants me to move forward in the situation. I do not want to fear, I want to gain wisdom. I know He wants that for me too ❤️

When I hit hardships, I typically become very depressed. I feel, in the moment, that God will keep me in a hardship forever. However, this is irrational and goes against the word of God. For he has good plans for me! Honestly, after a time, I seek the Lord. Especially in the past year or so, I feel like God is my only hope. And He is! Thank you God for growing spiritual maturity in me. However, right now, I’m really working on discernment. There are so many voices and things swirling around me. I’m trying to stay close to Jesus when seeking discernment and guidance. Today’s reading helped me discern between walking and wisdom and following fear in this passage: "Wisdom comes from a place of peace and courage. Fear sounds like: What will happen to us?" Wisdom is PEACE and COURAGE knowing that you’re in full surrender to God and his plans for you. God, I’m so thankful for your plans for me! Your ways are so far above my ways. I just want what you want for me. Please make it clear. Please make it so obvious. Because I am thick headed and I need you. Please help me cast off fear and naysayers at every turn. Help me walk in strength, courage and power knowing I am the daughter of the greatest King! I love you Lord. In Jesus holy name I pray. Amen <3

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