Never Running Away From A Mess

"...Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is" - Genesis 21:17.

We usually assess the kind of friendship we have with a person by this: does he or she run away when there's a mess to deal with? We already know that a fair-weather friend is not a true friend. In contrast, a friend in our time of need is a true friend indeed.

Looking at this from our own side of things, if one of our friends is in trouble, do we hide ourselves or do we run to his aid? If we do run to his aid, do we pick a course of action where we stay at a safe distance or do we get in the mix of things? If we have a choice of dictating how exactly we get involved will we pick the most messy or the most convenient one?

Whether we like it or not, life will always get us in a mess. We make wrong decisions all the time. We misunderstand someone or situations. It's just too easy to get into trouble. And when we do, getting out of it may sometimes require the help of someone. And the only one who's willing to extend that help will eventually be that person who's not afraid of diving in and getting wet himself.

In our passage, we are shown a picture of a family which is dealing with a mess that their collective faults created. Sarah, Abraham's wife, earlier suggested that Abraham sleep with her Egyptian servant Hagar so he could have a child with her. He did and it created trouble right away. This time, Ishmael, his son with her is causing trouble with Isaac, Abraham's son with his own wife. Sarah is now forcing Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away and he did. It didn't take long before the two found themselves starving and in the brink of death in the wilderness. If there is a time for anyone to need to a friend, it is this. And Hagar and Ishmael found a friend in God.

Here is a picture that the Lord wants us to see and appreciate. This won't be the first time that God will do this. He is a friend who doesn't shy away from our mess even though that mess is something our own faults created. God came to the rescue of Hagar and Ishmael, preferring to take the responsibility of raising them and providing for them away from the hands of Abraham.

Several thousand years later after the creation of the first man and woman, God once more demonstrated this willingness to dive in and get in the mix of our mess. Seeing that sin is winning over us and our slavery to it seems inescapable by our own means, God sent Jesus to free us from the result, the power and eventually the presence of sin. True to form, God did this not in the most convenient way for Him because Jesus had to die in our stead to make this happen. It is in God's power to choose and dictate how this is accomplished but He chose the most involved one, not from a distance but up close and personal.

There are times when we ourselves are ashamed of our own mess and would rather suffer in silence or isolation and never tell anyone. But God is teaching us that if He can't use people to come to our aid as in the case of Hagar, we can count on Him to take matters into His own hands. We don't have to feel trapped in our mess. We have a God who find ways that by ourselves are not able to conceive. When we are looking at a dead end, God may just bust a hole in the wall for us. He would divide the sea or stop the sun if He had to.

If you still don't see God as a true friend, maybe it's time that you do. You will never feel alone again even in the middle of a wilderness. You won't have to feel ashamed again even after committing the worst sin. His forgiveness cleanses and His grace restores. As an added bonus, God as a friend doesn't just straighten the mess. He straightens us so as to avoid anymore messes in our lives in the future.

(Photo credit: berrysimpson.com)