All of us at one time or another have had to deal with difficult relationships.  Perhaps for you it has been with a family member.  Or perhaps it has been with someone you thought was a friend.  Or, even worse, the difficulty is with your spouse.


In Genesis, chapter 16, a story unfolds that provides us with God's insight and wisdom regarding how to deal with a difficult relationship.   It is the story of Sarah, Abraham's wife, and her maid, Hagar. 


We pick up the story after Sarah decides she will never conceive.  And she tells Abraham to sleep with Hagar in order to produce a child.  Abraham complies and Hagar becomes pregnant.  But Hagar develops an attitude and begins to make Sarah's life miserable.


So Sarah goes to Abraham and complains ... as a result, things don't turn out well for Hagar - yet in this story we find some powerful lessons in how to handle difficult relationships.

6 So Abram said to Sarai, "Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please."  And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.

7 Now the Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.

8 And He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?"  She said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai."

9 The Angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand."

Sarah's harsh treatment of Hagar drives Hagar away, and that's when God shows up.  He asks a profound, two-fold question ... "Where have you come from, and where are you going?"  Questions from which you and I can learn.

Now the first part of that question, "Where have you come from?" suggests that Hagar ought to consider what she was leaving.  Implied in this question is God saying,

"I know you're hurt, you're upset, and maybe you're confused.  You're angry.  But have you really considered what you might be forfeiting if you follow through on this decision?  You are going to be forfeiting: