That Don't Make No Sense [10-20-19]

Updated: Nov 12, 2019


They are all around us. We see signs…we hear people say things…there are things we say or do, and our first reaction is none of those things make sense. My favorite way to put it is, "That don't make no sense." Here are a few examples:


Those things are funny. At least, I find them funny. They don't make sense and they're funny. Some things that don't make sense aren't so funny. Every one of us goes through difficulties. We all have obstacles in our lives. Some of the problems we face are far from funny. We call them things like personal storms. Personal struggles. Whatever we call them, we all go through them. While I'm not the brightest bulb in the drawer, here's one thing I'm certain of - You are either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or heading for a storm. That's life. Not very encouraging, but that's the way it is. We're not skipping our way through a land of unicorns and rainbows. We're real people in real life facing real problems. Storms are a part of life. We all have our miserable moments. There I go with my positivity. But you can't Joel Osteen your way out of the inescapable misery that is sometimes life.


Some of the storms in my life have been ones I've created. Others, while I didn't start them, I helped them intensify by either certain action or inaction. Some storms I willingly invited into my life. Other storms are the result of the wickedness of others.


However they start, we're going to look at storms today and next Sunday. Specifically, we're going to look at the life of Hagar and the storm in her life. We're going to learn a thing or two about God and ourselves in this story from Genesis.


How many of you have physical scars? I'm sure we could have an awesome show-and-tell right now. I've got a few minors scars, and a major one where my chest was split open almost 15 years ago. One of the things we need to understand is, however the storms come into our lives, we bear the consequences and/or scars of those storms. In a real sense, our emotional and physical scars tell the story of our lives.


As we consider that, look at this passage from 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.

We get knocked down, but we get up again.


That passage is going to form the underneathness as we look at the life of Hagar. While Hagar no doubt made her share of mistakes in her life, most of the scars and obstacles we're going to look at today were the result of someone else's decisions.


When you Google Hagar, the primary hits you get are Sammy Hagar and Hagar the Horrible. This is the first time I've ever focused a message on Hagar. We don't know a lot about her. But as we trace the trajectory of her life, there's a lot to learn about God and ourselves.

Before we get into all that, there's an overriding principle we need to be aware of. When things aren't right in our lives, and we don't understand why, and we still call out to God, and it feels like He isn't there, here's what we need to remember:

THE MYSTERY OF GOD'S WAYS ARE BEYOND MY COMPREHENSION.

That's not an escape, an excuse, or a cop out. It's simply recognition there's a big picture I'll never fully understand. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 13, now we see in a mirror dimly. God knows the big picture. We don't.


So when things go wrong and I don't get it, I can try to figure it out. I try, but I am finite. God is infinite. My boxy little brain has huge limits. God has no limits. So there's no way, in this life, I can ever fully understand everything.


But there's another truth that's a counterpart to our limited knowledge. We find it in Hagar's story. When bad things happen, I've heard people ask, "If God is such a good God, then why does He allow this to happen? If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then why does He put people through these horrible things?" Those questions get asked with each cancer diagnosis or tragic accident or natural disaster or horrific crime. "Why do we have these things if God is such a good God?"


Here's something you might want to write down:

IN HIS LOVING GRACE, GOD WORKS OUT HIS SUPREME PURPOSE WITHIN AND IN SPITE OF OUR CORRUPT HUMAN NATURE.

In other words, God's purpose will work out in your life. But never forget, God works within and in spite of our sinful, fallen, corrupt human nature.


We're going to see that in the story of Hagar. The people we will encounter are just like you and me. They dealt with sin just like you and me. They made mistakes. They were sinful, fallen people, just like you and me. And the corruptness of our human nature has been a part of our human story since the beginning of time.


Make no mistake. There are things that happen in our world that God does not condone…that aren't part of God's will or purpose…that God neither supports nor endorses. But they're a part of our culture. They've become accepted as a part of our culture. And God, in spite of that and within that, will work our His supreme purpose. That's what we're going to see in the life of Hagar.


Let's go there now. We're going to tell the story of Hagar, from Genesis 16, in a mostly narrative fashion. It centers first around a couple, Abraham and Sarah. They were a part of something radically new; monotheism; faith in One True God. God gave Abraham a vision. He told Abraham He wanted him to leave his land and go to the Promised Land. God was going to bless Abraham. He was going to make him the father of many nations. Abraham would have as many descendents as there were stars in the sky.


That was a big deal. Abraham and Sarah were old when the promise was made. Really old. Like older than me old. They couldn't have kids. But God was telling them to leave their homeland, where they were comfortable and prosperous, and go to a new land. Do you think that took a daring faith? They stepped out in faith to accept what God had for them.


As they moved forward in faith, Abraham and Sarah made a lot of mistakes. But we're going to fast forward through their mistakes, not because we want to cover-up their failures, but because we want to draw our focus on Hagar.


Hagar was in the household of Abraham. Abraham was wealthy; he was prosperous. Hagar was a slave. Remember, God didn't endorse, condone, or create slavery. That was something that had become acceptable in the culture. And God worked within and in spite of that product of corrupt human nature.


So Abraham and Sarah had a slave. God had promised to make him a father of many nations. Abraham had great wealth. And anybody with great wealth had servants who were part of their household. Hagar was part of his household. As a slave, she had no choice in what she did. She was at Sarah's beck and call.


Remember, God made a promise to Abraham. A father of many nations. No children had they. They couldn't conceive. Factor in that ten years had passed when God first gave the promise to Abraham, and you've got quite a head-scratcher.


They're now great-grandparent age, so you wonder, what was Sarah thinking about the promise? I wonder if she was questioning it. Perhaps she thought she had to push it along. Whatever the reason, Sarah took her servant Hagar to Abraham as a concubine. Sarah arranged for Abraham to have intercourse with Hagar. Hagar was going to be a surrogate. And Abraham said, "Okay."


In no time, Hagar was pregnant. Now, we see a pregnant woman {we've had several here at Covenant Church the past year or two} and it's such a beautiful thing. It's grace and life and creation and God's purpose and a blessing. I wonder what Sarah was thinking as Hagar started showing. While the Bible doesn't tell us exactly what happened between the two women, we know at this stage of the promise, Sarah was on the outside, looking in.

Now think of Hagar. Put yourself in her place. She was a slave. Sarah ruled over her. God made a promise to Abraham, but Hagar was the one pregnant with Abraham's first child. How could she not feel a little puffed up? She had to have believed that her future took a turn for the better. And so, maybe Hagar did act a little superior to Sarah. Maybe she believed herself more Sarah's equal now.


What we do know is Sarah was beside herself with anger and envy.


And so she went to Abraham. Genesis 16 is clear on that. Sarah went straight to Abraham and said, "May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!" Yikes. She said to Abraham, how could you do this to me?

And do you know what Abraham did? He said she's your servant. Do whatever you think you need to do.


Notice Abraham didn't say do the right thing or do what would be pleasing to God.


So Sarah made life miserable for Hagar. A living hell. And Hagar had had enough. She got to the point where she said, "I'm done. I'm out." So Hagar violated the law. She ran away. She would rather face deprivation and maybe even death on her own than put up with Sarah for one more moment. Have you ever been that desperate to get away from a horrible person or a horrible situation? Hagar was. Her decision doesn't reflect too well on Sarah and Abraham, does it?


So Hagar hits the road, back to Egypt. And somewhere God sent a messenger. He said to Hagar, "Hagar, where are you going?" And Hagar said, "Somewhere far away from this mess and these people. I can't do this anymore." And God said to her, "Hagar, I see. And the child that is within you will also have a promise because it is a seed of Abraham. He will also father a great nation. Go back to Sarah and submit to her."


Let's pause here for a moment. Remember the Biblical principle we looked at earlier:

IN HIS LOVING GRACE, GOD WORKS OUT HIS SUPREME PURPOSE WITHIN AND IN SPITE OF OUR CORRUPT HUMAN NATURE.

Hagar left a horrible situation. And God was sending her back there. She had to face Sarah again. She didn't know if the dynamics would get better or worse. But God gave her a promise. Your child will birth a great nation because it is Abraham's seed. So go back and submit to Sarah.


And that's where we're going to end for today. Hagar turned around. She went back. She made things right. She served in the dysfunctional household. She had the baby. And she named him "Ishmael," which means "God sees you." Hagar named the baby Ishmael.

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