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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 (4)

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.

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