It’s easy to look at today’s world and see a mess. I don’t even need to get into all of the nasty stuff that goes on for I’m sure twenty or more things easily pop into your mind. It’s tragic really. The Bible says in Romans 8:19-22
“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
As we eagerly await Christ to come again and redeem all that has been done wrong, so does creation. I look outside a see the beautiful flowers, lake, grass, clouds, and trees. They bring me closer to God. I love nature, and it pains me to think that they are suffering as well as all of the people of this world. All of them are groaning, waiting for atonement, just as we are. It brings them more to life, doesn’t it?
I read through this part of the Bible and see that humans weren’t that different back then. There were some messed up things that happened! This is R-rated stuff! You have Abraham lying about Sarah being his sister, Lot telling the men in Sodom to rape his daughters instead of the Angels of the Lord, God destroying a whole city with fire because they were so sinful, and Lot’s daughters getting him drunk and sleeping with him in order to preserve their family line. I’m sorry, WHAT!?!
Instead of focusing on those parts of the story, I decided to focus on the three women mentioned and pull morals from them. Sarah, Hagar, and Lot’s wife (her name is never mentioned in the Bible) each give us a strong life lesson to live by.
S – Scripture: Genesis 19-21
- 19:26 – “But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.”
- 21:1 – “The LORD kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. 2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.”
- 21:17-21 – “But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, ‘Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.’ Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer, and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.”
O – Observation:
- Lot’s wife: Follow God’s instructions; do not dwell on the past; there are consequences to disobedience.
- Sarah: Trust in God’s promises, never doubting that they are impossible. God is a big God and can do all things!
- Hagar: God sees us and hears us in our time of need; he provides what we need to fulfill his promises.
- God: fulfills his promises; calls for obedience even when it is hard; cares deeply about us and provides all that we need, physically and spiritually.
A – Application:
We don’t know a lot about Lot’s wife, but in this brief story, we learn a great lesson from her. God warns Lot and his family to flee from Sodom before he destroys it, and to never look back. He demands that they leave what’s behind them and look forward. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife glances back at the destruction and turns to a pillar of salt.
Isn’t that true of what happens when we look back though? We become frozen, unable to move forward into what God may be calling us to next. Behind us, even if there were struggles, is what we know and feel comfortable with. As much as it was possibly destructive to our health or well-being, it’s difficult to let go sometimes.
I can get so wrapped up in dwelling on the past and using those experiences to shape what could be next, instead of allowing God to work in new and amazing ways. In a way, I limit God by only using my past experiences to shape the possibilities of tomorrow. But God calls me to look forward and let the lessons of my past push me closer to him. What in the past is keeping you from looking forward? Why is it so difficult to let go and allow hope for the future?
As for Sarah, we witness God finally fulfilling his promise to bless her with a son. She was full of doubt a couple chapters prior, laughing at the possibility of her having a child in her old age. Now she is laughing because it actually happened. We witness another woman laughing in Proverbs 31:25 –
“She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future.”
I love those laughs that bring me to tears. There is something so cathartic about it, isn’t there? It has a certain freedom to it, and for a moment, everything else drifts out of my mind. Even when life feels heavy and dark, and I don’t feel like laughing, when my hope is fully in the Lord, I can experience that peace all of the time. How great is that? Have you felt that before? What was it like? What is keeping you from experiencing that laughter? Just try laughing right now, even if it’s fake, just do it. Let some joy and peace wash over you no matter what is going on. It’s okay to hope in the Lord and find something good to laugh about, even in your tough circumstance. Allow yourself to do that, it’s okay. God has it all in his hands, you need only to let him work.
Finally, we see Hagar, banished from Abraham’s family and wandering in the wilderness. Hungry and parched, she gives up and loses all hope that her and her son will survive. Then the angel of the Lord swoops down (okay, maybe not in that fashion, but it’s fun to think of it that way!) and provides what she needs to physically and spiritually to press on.
I love this image. It’s such a good reminder that God sees and hears and cares about every detail of our lives. He knows what we need and provides it when we need it. Not only does he give her water to physically sustain her and Ishmael, but also hope. He promises that he son will grow up to have many descendants. They will make it through this trial.
Lot’s wife teaches us to not dwell on the past, but look forward at what God is doing to build your life into something new and amazing. Sarah’s story builds our confidence in God’s goodness and faithfulness. He always keeps his promises even when they seem impossible (or especially when the seem impossible). Hagar proves that God looks out and listens for us, providing what we need physically, but also the most essential thing: hope.
Between all of the R-rated stories we find in these chapters, we can witness God’s amazing work in the details of these women’s lives. I hope you can see God’s grace, hope, and love among these women and be encouraged. Even though life around us is messy, dirty, and tragic, we can still find hope in looking forward to God’s ultimate redemption. Along with the flowers and trees, God is preparing a beautiful place where Satan has no power for us to reside when Jesus returns.
P – Prayer:
God, thank you for the stories of these women. Thank you for the lessons that they share. I think the one that speaks to me most right now is the one of Lot’s wife. I don’t want to be frozen in the past. Things happened and I’ve learned a lot, but you have so much more for me in the future. Help me to focus my eyes on you and hope for what you have to come. In your name, Amen.