Often I have been frustrated with God for the way things played out in my life. I would pray that a situation would change or I would beg—even barter—with God to change things.
Time would reveal that the very events I was so upset about were actually divine providence. Like the summer I didn’t get the job I wanted—and instead, the job I did get introduced me to the man I married! Sometimes I am very grateful God doesn’t answer my prayers!
Thinking about God’s grace leads me to one of my favourite Old Testament characters. In Genesis 16 we read of a lowly servant-girl, Hagar, abused and on the run. Hagar leaves her place of security, protection and provision to venture into a dry desert, with no possessions, an inadequate amount of food and seemingly no plan.
While aimlessly wandering, Hagar may have felt abandoned by God. Those entrusted with her care had failed to protect her. The daily abuse had driven her to desperation. Why hadn’t God intervened? And yet God’s grace was at work. In the midst of Hagar’s distress, God appears to her in a powerful encounter. Knowing her suffering, understanding her situation, God gives Hagar an incredible revelation and assures her that her future is filled with promise.
One of the toughest challenges I have faced is a mountain of education to climb. Oh how the path to graduation seemed endless! Sitting alone in my office, staring at my computer—while my roommates were out enjoying the Friday evening—I encountered a grave aloneness.
It is in such moments that only God’s grace brings us comfort and embraces us with the presence of the Almighty.
When I think of all the good things God has done for me, my first tendency is to see too much of myself at work with my need for God only a token acknowledgement. Yet when I think of the difficult times, it is there that I see much of God—and less of myself. I wonder, if it wasn’t for sickness, financial strains, educational mountains to climb and personal failures to overcome, how much of God would I know?
What drove Hagar to her place of desperation? Probably a number of pressures, not the least of which was an abusive situation; yet she realized that the path leading to her desperation was not God’s abandonment. God was at the very centre of her situation and met her at the lowest moment. Gracewatched over her – encouraged her to be strong and gave her hope.
How can I respond when my situation seems desperate?
I can trust that God’s grace is at work,orchestrating every detail of my situation to bring me to a place of full dependence on the One who sees me. I want to encounter God like Hagar did. And while I certainly don’t wish to
meet God alone and desperate in the “desert,” if that is where I find myself, I know God will be there. I know God’s grace will bring me through and give me, too, a future of promise.