“THE GOD WHO HEARS AND SEES”                      By Pastor YAU

Text: Genesis 16:4-13                               Mother’s Day, May 13, 2007.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)    A modern gadget: Many locator devices on the market today that promises to help us keep track of elderly parents, small children, pets, parolees and/or even potential kidnapping victims. As useful as they are, they would have done Hagar no good. There wasn’t anyone seemed to care about Hagar and her unborn son, to monitor their where about or well being in the desert. She and her unborn child needed more than a GPS monitor.

2)    An ancient story:  Hagar was a handmaid of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Sarai felt like a weak link in the chain of God’s promise to bless Abram with many descendants because she was barren. So, she gave her mail servant Hagar to Abram to be his concubine hoping to build a family through her. But her plans led to endless trouble. When Hagar became pregnant, she despised Sarai for her inability to have children. This led Sarai to treat Hagar badly so she ran away from home. There in the desert, facing desperate situation, God came to meet her and rescue her from despair.

 

HOPELESS, HELPLESS AND LOST:

1)    A live news event: This message is being written in the week of the Virginia Tech massacre in which 32 innocent lives were taken. Yesterday, the family of the gunman issued a sorrowful statement described, in part, their pain and grief to see this happened. Part of the statement says “our family feels hopeless, helpless and lost.” You don’t have to be in that horrific situation to feel that way. In situations much less devastating, we all have times to feel the same way: hopeless, helpless and lost.

2)    Wrong place, wrong time: All the victims of the massacre didn’t do anything to deserve life being cut short, dreams being shattered, joy of achievements evaporated, hopes that will never be realized. This happened to them without warning, no signs of its coming and they were completely unprepared. They were just at the wrong place in the wrong time no one could have any clue of knowing. Many people suffered devastating loss in similar situation like this. Life is full of unpredictable. There is nothing you can do to escape trouble or loss. You are completely unprepared.

3)    Do right is not enough: A few years ago, a veteran of constant exercise, the editor of my daily devotional booklet, Our Daily Bread, suffered a heart attack and died during his lunch hour regiment. A house wife who has never smoked in her life and has no smoker in her family has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. A faithful employee with a Ph. D. from Harvard spent the most productive 25 years of his life on one job was cut from payroll when his children were in college needing his support the most. You may tell more similar stories like these: you have done everything right, but bad things still happened.

4)    When God is all you have: When Habakkuk, the Prophet, faced the destitute situation in his life, he said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (3:17-18) No one wants to face situations like what the prophet faced and no one knows what to do when they have to. Sometimes, it is only in those times and space, when all have failed then God is all that we have and can count on. God is always there, you will never be alone.

 

TROUBLES IN A FAMILY: Troubles in families are never real news. It happens all the time and everywhere. But the trouble in this family makes more than TV or newspapers headlines. It castes the mega effect in human history: the trouble in the family of Abraham.

1)   It all starts with a mismatch: Mismatches are everywhere: your skill doesn’t match your job. Your personality doesn’t match that of your husband. Your purpose of life doesn’t match that of your friends and the colors and style of your outfit doesn’t match the occasion your want to go. But all these are peanuts compare to that mismatch in the family of Abraham: God promised him to be the father of a great nation but his wife, Sarai, couldn’t have babies. (Gen. 11:30; 12:2)How can a man become the father of anything when his wife can’t have a baby? The promise of God just doesn’t match the facts of life. We face situations like this everyday: the promise of God on one side but the real life is on the other side. Problems are waiting to happen if we don’t handle it properly.

2)   It compounds with a scheme: Mismatches won’t become problems if we learn to live with them without messing them up. But that’s not the case with Sarai. Sarai couldn’t take it and didn’t want to live her life with it. She initiated a scheme to “make it work” to her advantage: she wanted to “help” God fulfill His promise. All that was in her mind was “how can I build a family my way.” It was a thing of disgrace in her time when a woman can’t build a family with children. Her scheme was to make use of Hagar, her maid servant, so she may rebuild her dignity as a woman. (16:2)In doing so, she totally disregarded the sovereignty of God, the leadership position of her husband as head of the family and the dignity of Hagar as a person. She planted the seeds of all the troubles in years and generations to come.

3)   Then, it becomes a mess: Sarai offered her husband to sleep with Hagar, not many wives will do this, so Hagar may have a child and she may regain her dignity on this child as her own, a custom of her time. She succeeded it only half way: Hagar did get pregnant but she began to despise Sarai for her inability of having children. Sarai didn’t expect this to happen when she designed the scheme. Man cannot foresee everything that may happen down the road when he makes decisions on his own thinking he is wise and able. When Hagar became the second wife of Abraham, she forgot that she was a handmaid only a few months ago. She wasn’t happy with her second class position. She wanted to be equal or higher than Sarai because she could do what Sarai couldn’t. You don’t want to live in a family like this. Do you?

4)   Abraham made it much worse: Now Abraham had 2 wives and he got all the headaches no man ever wants to have. When Sarai came to him and complained about the mischievous behavior of Hagar, instead of exercising the responsibility as the man of the house to solve the problems between 2 women, he told Sarai to do whatever she wanted to do with Hagar and Sarai treated her very badly. No one knew how bad it was but it must be lot worse than treating a maid servant so Hagar couldn’t take it any more but to run away from the only home she ever had and known. When Abraham listened to his wife, a human way to fulfill God’s promise, he helped his wife planted the poisonous seeds of trouble. When he disregarded his responsibility as man of the house to resolve the problems in his family, he further fertilized the growth those seeds.

 

LESSONS WE MAY LEARN:

1)     God will find you: (16:7) “The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert.” Since Hagar was brought to Canaan from Egypt by Abram, she had never known any other place except the home of Abram. When she ran away from his home, she ended up lost in the wilderness. At that hopeless and helpless moment, God came to meet her where she was. God can meet anyone anywhere, be it in the wilderness or at your place, He is able to reach you and extend His helping hand. There is no place too far, or difficulty too bad that God can’t or won’t go to reach you and save you from your problems. Hagar did not look for God, but God looked for her and found her.

2)     God has a better plan: Life must be so difficult that she couldn’t bear any more that Hagar had no other choice but to run away. The fact that she was pregnant didn’t bring her any advantage as she wished but all the trouble she now faced. She won’t feel that way if she could have known what God has in mind for her baby: “The angel added, I will so increase your descendent that they will be too numerous to count.” (16:10)God’s plan was to bless the baby Hagar was carrying and to make him father of a great people many believe are the Arabs today. When Hagar felt life had come to the end, God had something much bigger and better for her and her baby. Remember, God is much bigger than your problems. He is able to make it a blessing much bigger than you can imagine.

3)     God hears your cry: We can imagine the destitute situation of Hagar when she headed the door and ran outside in the middle of the night. We may also imagine the pain she had in her heart to leave the only home she had ever known. We certainly may hear the cry of hopelessness when she was on the way into the wilderness, not knowing where to go and what to do. No one in that Canaan country could hear the cry of this Egyptian woman or care what her peril might be. But God did. When the angel told her to name her baby “Ishmael for the Lord has heard your misery.” (16:11) (Ishmael means “God hears”) God had heard your cry in the past. He hears your cry of pain today and He will continue to hear you everyday in the future. God will never leave you or forsake you. (Deut. 31:6)

4)     God sees and cares: God gave the son of Hagar a name, Ishmael, to show her He hears. Hagar in turn gave God a name, El Roi, a Hebrew word means “the God who sees me.” When we are in deep trouble and pain, we may think that God is too far away or too busy to see our pitiful situation or our needs. When God called Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt, He told Moses, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have head them crying out because of their slave drivers and I am concern about their suffering.” (Ex. 3:7)God doesn’t just hear our cries, not just sees our misery, He also concerns our suffering and has a plan for our deliverance.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Hopeless and helpless? God is specialized in those times when no one can help and nothing can be done. He is there to extend His love and His helping hands. All we need to do is ask.

2)   Follow His way: Never try to outsmart God or try to help God do His job your way. You may mess up His plans and suffer terrible consequence. Keep your faith and be patient. He will finish his job.

3)   Allow God to find you: God found Hagar in her desperate situation. He can find you in your situation whatever it may be. He is never too far away. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and He will save you.