Devotional 3/21

Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Genesis 16:13

God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain. He sees, He hears and He will deliver.

The joy of the lord is my strength and when I say that I understand that bringing joy to God, strengthens me. We are still standing and walking because of God, not because of our strength! Even the most self controlled person, the most patient and the kindest person could trade their life with God, because God’s grace is necessary. His grace is sustenance, and is sufficient in every area of our lives. Grace is the power of God in us, and through us, pushing us to will and to purpose. Even Jesus being fully man and fully God, was tempted a few times to let go. But God is faithful to those He calls, empowering them and revealing Himself enough to cause inner conviction to live a life that pleases Him. While God gave His life for us, and has plans for us, His sovereign power and mercy are dependent on Him. Many of us can testify to knowing God’s mercy: where our own decisions have brought about tragedy, loss, or even destruction. And a story which comes to mind when I think about this combination, is the story of Sarah and Abraham.
God called Abraham, and told Him his plan, He gave Him a promise. Yet Sarah took it upon herself to bring God’s plan to pass, and added consequences to the life of all those involved. God worked it out for good and still completed His original plan (sovereign will), but He did not act with mercy towards the consequences. 
  • Mercy: love that responds to human need in an unexpected or unmerited way.
  • The sovereignty of God: His ability to exercise His holy will  to accomplish what He has resolved (by using His unlimited power). Image result for decisions and consequences

When Ishmael was a teenager, God told Abraham to send his son and the mother away. Imagine his sorrow… letting go of his teenage son, one who he saw grow and whom he raised. And the truth of the matter is that, Abraham probably never saw his son again, and Ishmael never saw his dad again. Their suffering was not spared. Abraham provided food and drink for them, but their food ran out. As any mother would, Hagar wept and worried for her child. She figured they would die in the wilderness, but God sent an angel to tell her that ‘He heard Ishmael’. Except that the bible does not say they prayed, so what did God hear exactly?

God opened her eyes, and she was able to see a water well, to drink from. If God’s mercy had not reached them, they would have died (Genesis 22:2–8). The Lord sovereignly realigned their expected outcome with His perfect will. The angel spoke on behalf of God, and also promised Hagar, that He would make a great nation of Ishmael. Ishmael was Abram’s son too and God had already promised to bless Abraham’s descendants and make them great in number. So God aligned for Ishmael to be part of the blessing.

On another note, God did not have mercy on Abraham, because he still suffered the loss and separation from his son Ishmael. And to this day, the enemies of Israel are the Ishmaelites (Arabs). Ishmael brought division, which still exists today (Islam and Judaism: this is not heresy, people simply do not address it). So as I was meditating on this story, I remembered that Hagar and Ishmael had nothing to do with being rejected and abandoned. Mercy flows freely because God hears the prayers of our hearts. Even if we are at a loss of words, God knows the true and deepest petitions of our hearts and the pain afflicting us. The Lord saw the affliction Hagar and Ishmael were going through. And He had mercy on them.

This was God’s sovereign will and His mercy working together, and God can work in this same way in our lives. Ishmael means “God hears”, in Hebrew. Maybe your name is not Ishmael… but God knows exactly what you are experiencing. God knows all things, sees all things, and is all powerful- but we do have free will. And He has both sovereignty and mercy for your life.

Let’s pray:
Lord Jesus, we present our hearts to you. May you search our hearts and show us anything that may be a hindrance to your will. Show us those places where we still need to adjust our attitudes, and give us the wisdom to confront them. May we catch the little foxes that may spoil our vines, and may we be strengthened to lay them at your feet. You gave us free will, and you gave your children grace; may we not use either freedoms to go after things that may bring consequences to our lives or those around us. In the mighty and matchless name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
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