One of the fascinating things about reading God’s Word is discovering the variety of lessons we can learn from a single passage or story in Scripture. For instance, God captured my attention this morning with fresh insight into a familiar narrative found in the Book of Genesis.
The story of Abraham and Sarah casts a spotlight on the devastating consequences of disobedience and impatience. Our actions can wreak havoc on our lives as well as those around us.
How do we handle ourselves when poor choices of others bring painful consequences into our lives? Let’s look at what we can learn from the experience of Ishmael on this subject:
Ishmael lived as Abraham’s son and heir until he was thirteen years of age. But, once Isaac was born, Ishmael was cast aside and rejected. Ishmael was born into conflict, but he didn’t have to allow his circumstances to predict his future or dictate the way he lived his daily life.
Ishmael chose to become part of the problem by allowing resentment to take root in his heart. He failed to respect the place of his half-brother, Isaac and mocked him. Consequently, Abraham banished Ishmael and his mother from his family.
We can learn a valuable lesson in Ishmael’s life. Circumstances may be out of our control, but we don’t have to let them dictate our response. Rather than reacting negatively to stressful situations, we can ask God for wisdom and courage to do the right thing. We become agents of change when we respond in love with the help of the Holy Spirit.
I know that sounds like an impossible thing to do. Especially if you, like me, have been collateral damage in the aftermath of another person’s selfish actions. I, too, have felt the enemy press his finger on that raw spot, taunting and tempting me to lash out at that person. But here’s the truth: holding on to resentment and anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
For this reason, I am challenging myself to use these situations as opportunities to become a better person. Instead of reacting from a place of offense or brokenness, I shift my focus to God and pray. I ask Him to help me replace the ugly thoughts and emotions innate to my carnal nature with His thoughts. Then instead of asking God to change my circumstances, I ask him to change me so that I can handle every situation with His grace and mercy.
Friend, it’s amazing what God will do in our hearts when we decide to live our lives in a manner that honors Him. Nothing can thwart God’s plans for us because His plans incorporate people’s mistakes. In spite of the messes we make, God can work ALL things out for our good if we let Him. I know this is true because I see the evidence of this truth unfolding in my life every single day!
Sending peace, love, and happiness to all!
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