You know what the enemy wants? To discourage you. To get you so distracted and down you’re worthless for the kingdom – God’s kingdom. He’d love nothing more than to steal your joy today. To keep you from thinking about the hope you have – the peace God gives – so you won’t tell anyone. So you won’t bear witness to the confidence and certainty Jesus Christ provides. And the joy that comes with intimately knowing the Savior now and for all eternity.
Devotional: Genesis 23
Key Verse: “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13
Every day brings opportunities of distraction. Whether it be the ever present “to do” list or sick kids or simply unwanted circumstances. Or something “bigger” like the loss of a loved one or a job or a doctor’s report. The fact is, it doesn’t take much and we’re knee deep in fear and uncertainty. Completely overwhelmed and diverted from the blessings we have in Christ.
The enemy doesn’t have to destroy us, he simply needs to distract us. By getting us to focus on the wrong things; ever stirred up instead of prayed up.
The temptation was there for Abraham too (on more than one occasion). To lose his focus. Sidetracked by the misgivings of the day. Or the drama in his home, the disputes among his servants, or the fears he felt living as a sojourner in a foreign land.
Especially the day Sarah died. His beautiful wife of probably more than 100 years. His princess – gone; no longer there to encourage him in his faith. No longer there to remind him of the promises. The milestones. The miracles God had done in their lives.
Genesis 23:2 says Abraham wept for her. He was broken. I find it interesting this is the first mention of the word “weep” in Genesis. It’s not recorded at the fall, the flood, or even the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But here at the bedside of a faithful man’s beloved – God made note of the weeping.
God is not indifferent to our losses. Neither is he forgetful. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Ps. 56:8, NLT). He knows how much it hurts. He knows my friend. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3a). Yet remained faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).
As did Abraham in the muck and mire of grief. Abraham could have laid in his tent for days or weeks or months after Sarah’s death. He could have given up. He could have decided it was too hard without his wife. And not fair of God to take her. He could have doubted and despaired over God’s faithfulness and kindness. But he didn’t. Instead, he took the opportunity to step forward in faith, purchasing the cave of Machpelah at top dollar (400 shekels of silver).
If God intended to give him the land of Canaan, as he had promised, then he wanted his wife buried there, along with himself. As it turned out – Sarah and Abraham, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah were all laid to rest in the cave of Machpelah in Hebron, about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. Ironically, today there stands a Muslim mosque over the spot believed to be the cave of these patriarch couples.
Abraham turned Sarah’s death into an opportunity to step forward in faith, no matter the cost. This indeed is the goal. To walk forward in faith. Not distracted or distraught or dismayed. But confident in the hope we have in Jesus Christ. In the blessings of eternity. Whether the day brings about “little” distractions or “big” ones, let’s turn it into an opportunity to glorify God with our faith; as we’re filled with inexpressible joy because of the hope we have (1 Peter 1:8).
Because we know “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). For “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:20-21).
Therefore we don’t grieve as those who have no hope but as those who know “by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep…we will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-17).
Because of faith in Jesus Christ I have much to look forward to. And so do you! He knows when it hurts; He takes note of the weeping. And he’ll take care of us. We just need to remain focused always and forever on Him.
So today, come what may, I pray you “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). And step forward in faith.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
What kinds of things is the enemy using to keep you distracted from the peace and joy and assurance you have in Christ?
How can you step forward in faith today? What kind of declaration can you make?