You are full of hope but you are conscious of the reality. Your eyes are open to reality. Your faith is strong and fixed on your hope. But between your reality and hope there is a gap, a dreadful gap. A hollowness. A dryness within that tells you that your hope is unattainable. You are in pain because despair is knocking and anxiety kicks in.
These are the moments when Abraham pops up with a solution. Oh God why don’t you just let this Eliezar of Damascus be the one. What you promised is good. And I know you meant well. But the reality, God, is that I’m old, and Sarah too is advanced in years! So we can live with Eliezar of Damascus. It is OK. Let the Assyrian take the blessing.
That’s how we are sometimes. We settle for less because of the reality of our situation. We try to condition God to operate within our limitations. But God refuses to be limited. He is the Infinite God and the Almighty One. He asks, is anything too hard for the Lord?
So Abraham keeps quite, but Sarah picks up the discussion. She too is hit with her own realities. She knows what God promised. She has lived in hope. But the desert place has been long and dry. And the heat is too much. The gap is now too big. She is 76. Too advanced in age. Her time is passed and she comes to terms with it. She settles for Haggar!
Some of us are not enjoying the blessing because we fear to come to terms with our realities. Sarah came to terms with her reality. And like Abraham she limited God to her reality. She found a solution. But unlike Abraham she did not test her solution on God. She sold it to Abraham and they implemented it immediately. Sometimes when you make a tough decision it is good to reflect on it before implementing it. Just to make sure that you are at peace with your choices. Some decisions have long lasting implications and consequences. So there is no need to rush in implementing them. Just because someone is shouting how much he or she loves you is no reason why you should implement it quickly by giving yourself. Some things you give and you never can get them back when you change your mind. Just because the hurt is so deep and the pain is unbearable is not a reason good enough for divorce. If you hold on things may change. It did for Abraham and Sarah.
Abraham and Sarah were tired of waiting in the desert of God’s silence.
So they took the ready solution. But some solutions are really not solutions but problems. Even bigger problems than the one you thought you were solving.
Sarah thought that her maid would remain her maid after sharing her husband. Sarah, you are naïve! Wake up Sarah baby! The girl has been there. She is pregnant. And she is going to drive your old husband crazy. For your old and tired husband, Abraham, is her fresh sugar daddy. Her babe! Or sugar grandpa! Her dreams are coming true. Haggar thanks her stars for she is married to the big man. The rich man. So Sarah tries to control her and Haggar says back off! What do you know about having children? Sarah is hurt. Very hurt. She can’t take it. She puts her foot down. But it is too late. Some solutions are problems. The child is born. Ishmail is here. Sarah is devastated. Abraham is excited.
For Sarah desperation becomes a nightmare because Abraham loves the boy. His boy! The future is now bright for him. Not for Sarah. She no longer hopes. The gap widens. The pain is too much to bear. The disappointment with the Haggar project is too great. She no longer prays. The subject is closed. She tries to find peace in cynicism. God is silent.
How many of you are trying to cope with the silence of God? There are areas in your life that are shut up and you no longer want to entertain any conversation there. The very thought of it is painful. You do not want anybody, not even God to go there! Anyone who brings a conversation about that aspect of your life immediately meets with your disapproval. Don’t go there! And they get the message!
But God is not man. He is not controlled by our limitations. God comes through even when we try to lock Him out. That is what grace is all about. Somehow in moments of our quietness we still hear His voice, some times faintly but always clearly. Never vaguely. He says, I want you to allow me to deal with your pain. I want to take it away.
Notice how He does it. He waits 14 years for Sarah to settle down and be still. He waits for Abraham to rethink of His promises and purposes. He waits for Abraham to reach a state where He can no longer save himself. He cannot by himself do that which God has promised. He is now 100 years old and, like Sarah, he knows he cannot have a child, not even with Haggar. Then God steps in. He comes in style to announce the good news. Sarah will have a baby! The speech of grace in itself leads to laughter.
Sarah laughs. Abraham laughs. But God is faithful and the child Laughter is born! For that is what Isaac means. Laughter! God’s favour, grace, always brings laughter to the undeserving.
Maybe you thought you I’ll never laugh again. Let me tell you. Get ready. For God is about to surprise you with joy unspeakable.
That which you thought would never happen is what God is about to do. For, is anything too hard for the Lord? God is about to break His silence. The prophet says our God shall come, shall come and not keep silence!
He said to Moses, I’ve heard the cry of my people. I have seen their trouble and I have come to deliver them! Moses thought it was over. God’s promises had failed. His word had failed. But God says it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one word of His to fail.
Naomi came home telling people, don’t even call me Naomi! Call me Marrah. For I’m bitter! But it is not over until God says so.
Once there was silence in heaven too. Because the Lily of the Valley, the Rose of Sharon, Emmanuel was hanging on the cross with the destiny of planet earth and of the universe on His mind. And God was silent! Darkness fell on Him! But faith sustained Him. He trusted Him and, like Abraham, hoped against hope. The evidence before Him was that He was rejected. The pain, the shame, the spit, the stripes, the mocking, and the darkness and the curse of the cross, all spoke rejection. But faith held on to the goodness of God! He did that just for you. That you may laugh again and know that the everlasting arms are around you today. So get ready to laugh when god breaks the silence and closes the reality-hope gap.