“Live and in person” Advent devotion for November 30, 2020. Read Genesis 16:7-14 and Psalm 16.
It has been four chapters and ten years since Abram believed and obeyed the command of the Lord to go to Canaan where he would become a great nation. Abram and his wife Sarai still have no children. Not much of a nation so far. So Sarai has her husband sleep with her servant Hagar. Hagar conceives and Sarai is not happy. She treats Hagar badly until Hagar finally leaves.
The angel of the Lord finds her at a spring and asks, “What are you doing out here?” Now that phrase “the angel of the Lord” means more than just an angel like the ones Jacob sees in his staircase dream or that the shepherds saw on the night when Jesus was born. By the end of these verses, Hagar knows she has seen the Lord, “a God of seeing,” “him who looks after me” (16:13). This moment is one of the pre-incarnational appearances of the second person of the Trinity, whom we will later get to know as Jesus Christ. No one can look at God the Father and live. You can see God the Holy Spirit at work, but it’s like the wind. You can’t see it but you can see its effect. It must be the Son.
Hagar couldn’t win. She did what she was told, but still got in trouble. It was one of the first “no good deed goes unpunished” moments. But the Lord found her and sent her back home to be the mother of a great nation. Hers would not be the covenant people of God, but they would be a family to be reckoned with nonetheless.
All of us have had moments when we’ve done everything right, but it still turned out wrong. A recipe that tasted terrible. A do-it-yourself project that soon ended up in the trash. A best effort that only earned a “C” from the teacher. A carefully chosen gift the recipient returns the next day.
What do you do when you just can’t win? You remember that God doesn’t care about you because you’re a winner, or successful, or get lots of “likes.” He cares about you because you are one of His. He made you, knows you, loves you and sometimes asks “What are you doing?” Jesus, live and in person, would later reassure His disciples, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:58)!
When it feels like I’m out in the middle of nowhere, thanks for finding, seeing and looking after me, Lord. It is so good to know that I’m not alone! Amen.