Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Be still and rest in the Lord: wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in His way.”
Psalm 37: 7
“At the heart of the cyclone tearing the sky
And flinging the clouds and the towers by
Is a place of central calm;
So here in the roar of mortal things,
I have a place where my spirit sings,
In the hollow of God’s palm.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down into Egypt to live temporarily, for the famine in the land was oppressive and grievous. And when he (Abram) was about to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, ‘I know that you are beautiful to behold. So when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say, I beg of you, that you are my sister, so that it may go well with me for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.’”
Genesis 12: 10-13
“The Farce We Call Fear” Part 3
“The Move, The Monarch, The Mammon, The Mistress and the Mountain”
“Fear closes the ears of the mind.”
Has there ever been a time in my life when fear had so immobilized me that I felt like I couldn’t even think clearly?
What have I done when fear blocked my way?
How have I witnessed God’s hand removing obstacles in my pathway?
“Fear is a tyrant and a despot, more terrible than the rack, more potent than the snake.”
“What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm where harm is not.
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is short!”
With a spirit of confidence in his heavenly Father, Abram packed up and moved where God led. It might seem to us that with God as our Guide there would be no cause for alarm or fear. But no sooner did Abram get his family on the march toward the Promised Land – Canaan – than a hurtle was in his way. This is exactly what often happens in your life and mine. A blockage, not of Abram’s making developed.
As their journey proceeded, Abram and his company recognized the signs of a famine. This was not a one-day problem. In fact, in Genesis 12: 10 we are told, “Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down into Egypt to live temporarily, for the famine in the land was oppressive, intense and grievous.” I think you get the picture. This was a devastating event.
But there’s something about Abram’s famine detour which grabbed my attention. In Genesis 12: 10-12, there’s not one mention of God. There’s not a word about Abram taking this problem to God. Instead, in Genesis 12: 11-13, it is revealed that Abram, fearing for his own life, came up with his own plan to disguise the fact that Sarah was his wife. He felt that if the Egyptian monarch got one look at his gorgeous wife, he’d want to take her into his harem and as for Abram, he would be a problem that Pharaoh could eliminate quickly.
It would do us well to remember that it had only been a few months at the most when God told Abram, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you with abundant increase of favor and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you, who confer prosperity or happiness upon you, and curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you with all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12: 2, 3, Amplified Bible). With this most grand blessing upon Abram’s life and having heard God’s promise to take care of Abram and his family, we would think that Abram would have pressed on, full steam ahead toward Canaan, knowing that without a doubt, the God who guided him on this journey would provide for him all along the way. But this isn’t what happened. Apparently the fear of Pharaoh’s power so blinded Abram that he decided he needed to help God out and he came up with a plan which he believed would keep death away from his door.
Before we look at all Abram had going for himself with God as His guide, I want to ask you this question: “Have you ever had some problem loom up suddenly before you and you thought to yourself that you had better take things into your own hands because God didn’t seem to be getting the job done?”
As I put this question to myself, a specific event flashed before my eyes. Years ago when the company Jim and I owned had a very large client base, our business partner who lived across the country and was not lending much help to the growth in business, called me one day – out of the blue. He informed me that he was going to do freelance work for an agency that was in direct competition with us. In fact, this competitor was targeting our largest account, trying to get the business for themselves. I was furious to put it bluntly. I felt totally betrayed and undermined by someone who I had trusted. But as I look back, in retrospect, what really was at the heart of my overwhelming emotional meltdown was fear. I was afraid we would lose business and at the time, we had multiple family members working for us. What would they do? I was beside myself with worry. And I’m sad to report to you that like Abram, instead of laying this problem out before God, I came up with what I deemed to be a very creative plan that would, as I so wisely thought, solve all my problems.
Well, this is one of those times when I have the benefit of being able to look back and see the results of my “meddling” in God’s business. What happened was that the “perfect” plan I cooked up ended up being nothing but a fiasco. The fact is that to this day I don’t know how God would have solved the problem because I rushed in too quickly to perform my magic tricks and work things out myself. What’s more, I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought about that situation and asked myself, “How would God have taken care of that problem?” I know now He was more than able. But here’s the problem. God can’t work for us, on our behalf, if we have grabbed up the problem and told our heavenly Father, “Hands off. I can take care of this myself.”
I’ve shared some of Ruth Harms Calkins prayer – poems with you in the past and today I’d like to share another of her gems entitled, “When Trouble Comes:”
“My Lord… my dear Lord
Again this morning
As I read the words of the Psalmist
You refreshed my heart
And replenished my hope.
‘When trouble comes He is the place to go.’
Always I am unnerved
By its unannounced entrance
Into the secret corridors of my soul.
Pushing through with frightening force
It comes in sinister shapes and sizes.
I am never prepared for its onslaught.
Fashioned as pain it overwhelms me.
As sorrow it grieves me.
As disappointment it numbs me.
As failure it defeats me.
As anxiety it entangles me
In a perilous net of depression.
I have boldly underlined David’s words:
‘When trouble comes He is the place to go.’
How foolish to go running
From friend to friend
From place to place
When You have promised to deliver me.
It is in Your proximity,
That my frantic fears dissolve
‘When trouble comes He is the place to go ‘
In the margin of my Bible I have written
It is in Psalm 27: 4, 5 where the Psalmist David reminds us that he called on the Lord and went seeking for his heavenly Father. Why? Because, as he penned, “In the day of trouble He hid me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent He hid me; and He set me high upon a rock.”
When Abram faced a famine in the land, he came up with what he thought was a terrific plan: he would go to Egypt and let Pharaoh’s bins of food solve his problem. But as we learn, this wasn’t how God would have solved the crisis. The fact is, we don’t really know how God would have worked on behalf of Abram’s group of hungry travelers. All we know is that Pharaoh liked what he saw when Sarah came before him. And while the little white lie that Abram cooked up may have saved his neck, it put his wife in a terrible position. And this meant Abram really had a huge problem on his hands because God wasn’t going to let Pharaoh have his way with Sarah. We are told in Genesis 12: 17, “The Lord scourged Pharaoh and his household with serious plagues…and Pharaoh called Abram and said, ‘What is this that you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, she is my sister, so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and get away from here” (Genesis 12: 17-19, Amplified Bible).
I must tell you that this experience in Abram’s life can teach you and me so much about our gracious and merciful heavenly Father. Even when we say, “I’ll take care of things myself” and we get into a mess that is too much for us to handle, our dear Father will come to our aid if we call out and ask for His help. We can’t help but love our Father who promises to keep us under the shelter of His wings. What’s more, when we wander out from under His protective shield, because we think we can handle all life throws at us and on our very own, He says to us, “Call on Me in your day of trouble, and I will deliver you” (Psalm 50: 15). Just so we “get it,” I want to emphasize that the Hebrew word for “deliver” means to equip and strengthen, to strip away and pull off the trouble that clings to us like Super Glue!
What can I say today about my Father in heaven? Well – quite a lot! For when His daughter faces trouble – an unexpected problem that enters my life “unannounced” and overwhelms me – my Father says, “Hang on. I’ll strip away that problem. I’m going to pull you out of the mess you are in. And what’s more, I will strengthen you and equip you for the rest of your journey home.”
May we learn the lesson Abram learned. The next time a problem terrorizes us and we find ourselves dashing off to Pharaoh to find food in Egypt, let us take a moment to stand still and call upon our Father in the day of trouble and He will save us. He’s promised and His word will not change – Praise His Name!
“Fear imprisons, faith liberates;
Fear paralyzes, faith empowers;
Fear disheartens, faith encourages;
Fear sickens, faith heals;
Fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable;
And, most of all,
Fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life,
While faith rejoices in its God.”
Harry Emerson Foskick
“Hold Thou my hand:
and closer, closer draw me
To Thy dear self, my hope, my joy, my all;
Hold Thou my hand:
lest haply I should wander,
And missing Thee,
my trembling feet should fall.
Hold Thou my hand:
so weak I am, and helpless;
I dare not take one step without Thy aid,
Hold Thou my hand:
For then, I loving Saviour
No dread of ill shall make my soul afraid.”
(Two verses from one of her hymns)
“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not; behold your God will come…He will come and save you.”
Isaiah 35: 4
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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