I am doing a read-through-the-Bible program with my church - actually, I'm listening. It's a great way to use my car time and is also helpful since I'm not a very fast reader. When I read through the Bible it amazes me how new phrases, stories, and people are brought to my attention each time. One story that challenged me so far is that of Sarai and Hagar. Hagar is Sarai's maid-servant. Sarai became frustrated and impatient when she did not get pregnant as God had promised. It was taking far too long according to Sarai's plans and so she gave Hagar to her husband and Hagar became pregnant. This started an intense, emotional, angry cat-fight between the women. They despised each other. Abram saw what was happening and told Sarai, "'Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.' Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her." (Genesis 16:6)
The Lord reached down and showed amazing kindness and grace to Hagar. It is a beautiful story, especially if you are in a lonely place. You can read the entire story in Genesis 16.
There is a piece of this story that caught my attention like never before. In Genesis 17 God says to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her."
Sarah was blessed. Sarah was a leader alongside her husband. I imagine that Sarah was known by many, impacted many, loved many, and many loved her. I think of her like Princess Diana - helping and caring for the people her husband led. She was blessed by God Himself!
Now imagine how Hagar felt when she heard Sarah's name spoken. What emotions would come up as she heard of the blessings bestowed upon Sarah, Abraham, and their community? God's favor and Sarah's usefulness were not limited by Hagar's experience with Sarai.
There is some tough application here . . . speaking from my own experience.
Have you ever been hurt or treated unjustly by someone who loves Jesus? Have you (who love Jesus) ever been the bearer of hurt or treated someone else unjustly?
Have mean, unkind, downright wrong, or evil words or actions been done to you by someone who seems to be favored by God? Have you (who have received blessing from God) ever spoken or done mean, wrong, or evil things to someone else?
It's happened - I'm 100% sure because we are human and we are not perfect.
I struggle with the fact that people who hurt me so badly could also be the agents of great blessing to others. My experience feels like the only possible truth. I admittedly don't feel like giving much or any grace. After all, they ought to be held accountable for their actions. But . . . when I'm on the end of personally "messing up" I desire, expect, and sometimes demand all the grace in the world. That mess-up shouldn't define me. After all, look at all the ways God has blessed me and all the people I, in turn, bless. I deserve grace!
See any application yet?
I encourage you to ponder these thoughts, as I continue to ponder them as well. God is teaching me much about grace and I will be writing more about it in the weeks and months to come. The extraordinary life challenges our thinking, our behavior, and requires new grace-filled thoughts and actions.
(I’m Traci, the "Be Extraordinary!" blogger. I share insights that challenge and encourage moms to be the best version of themselves. To me, that’s an extraordinary life! Click HERE to receive blog updates and a free newsletter.)