Step one of the 12 steps of AA states, “We admitted that we were powerless over our problems- that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Every journey has to start somewhere. Ours starts with pain…
Let’s take a look at a lowly servant who found hope for a brighter future beyond her current situation in the darkest hour of pain.
Genesis 16:1-15 (ESV)
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. 3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. 4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” 6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,
“Behold, you are pregnant
and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
his hand against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”[e] 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.
Like Hagar, in our active addiction we too run from the pain and hardships of life and seek comfort and peace in our addictions and compulsive behaviors. Like Hagar, the challenges we face are real. The pain is very real.
Hagar learned two valuable lessons that changed the course of her life. We can learn from those same lessons and begin to find hope and freedom from not only our addictions, but also the pain that lead us there.
Hagar was so mistreated by Sarai that she could no longer stand it. The near certainty of death for her and her child seemed to Hagar more bearable than one more night in Sarai’s home. She had come to realize that she was powerless over her problems, and that her life had become unmanageable.
It was in this state of utter desperation that the Lord God heard Hagar’s cry. The Lord God sent an angel to deliver a life changing message to the desperate woman. What is just as notable as what the angel said to her that day is what the angel did not say. We don’t read that the angel spoke harshly to Hagar commanding her to get her life together, or asking what is her problem. We don’t hear the angel telling Hagar that it’s not that bad, or come on you can do this. We don’t hear any negativity, criticism, or judgment. Instead the angel offers hope.
Hagar was told that she was to bear a son and that she shall call his name Ishmael, which means, God hears. Every time she was to call the name of her child Hagar would be reminded of the miraculous encounter with the angel of the Lord. She would be reminded of the lowest, most desperate day of her life when from the darkness, God heard.
Questions to consider:
- In your darkest hour, at the lowest point in your life, in your addiction were you met with negativity, criticism, and judgment, or with grace, mercy, and hope?
- Are you hesitant to call out to God in your darkest hour, perhaps because you have fallen and repented and fallen again?
- Are you hesitant to call out to God because you feel like you have fallen so far that you aren’t sure He will forgive you?
- Do you wonder if God is even real, if He really knows you, if He cares?
Be encouraged, the same God who heard the cry of the lowly servant girl hears your cry. The same God who had a future for Hagar has a future for you if you will only step into it.
The second lesson the Lord God had for Hagar was that beyond the pain of her current situation was hope for a brighter future if she was willing to follow God’s plan. The same is true for us today. The Lord spoke to another person in the Bible, Jerimiah. He said to him, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” (Jerimiah 29:11)ESV. God has plans for His children. Unfortunately just like in our own lives children don’t always follow their parents and miss out on blessings.
God promised to bless Hagar but first she had to obey Him and return to her less than ideal situation. The same is true of us today. Believe it or not, God’s best plans often start at the deepest level of despair. If you have come to the point in your life where you realize you are powerlessness over your problems and that life has become unmanageable, you are in a prime position to begin stepping into the brighter future beyond your current pain that God has planned for you!
Questions to consider:
- Have you come to the point in your life where you realize you are powerlessness over your problems and that life has become unmanageable?
- Do you believe God has a plan for your life?
- Why do you think we don’t always live out God’s plan and end up missing out on the blessings He desires for us?
- How are you encouraged by the life of the lowly servant Hagar?