ENJOY FORTUNE TOGETHER, ENDURE MISFORTUNE TOGETHER
(GEN 12:4-5, 10-13:1)
Larry’s barn burned down, and, Susan, his wife, called the insurance company. Susan told the insurance company, “We had that barn insured for fifty thousand and I want my money.” The agent replied, “Whoa there, just a minute, Susan. It doesn’t work quite like that. We will ascertain the value of the old barn and provide you with a new one of comparable value.”
Susan replied after a pause: “Then I’d like to cancel the policy on my husband.”
Even people of faith fail for lack of courage, conviction and commitment, and so make poor decisions and suffer untold consequences. Abraham, the father of all who believe (Rom 4:11), was faithless on one occasion. He almost lost his family if not for God’s faithfulness. It’s been said, “Three things in life make a man: hard work, sincerity and commitment.” If that is true, Abram failed miserably. He could not tough it out in uncertain or harsh economic times, was not sincere with the neighbors and foreigners he met, and had no commitment to his wife in real or perceived threatening circumstances.
It’s been said, “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” but I beg to differ. Desperate times need not lead to the path of deceit, disloyalty, and dishonesty.
Desperate Times Call for Dogged Determination
A young man, a Christian, went to an older believer to ask for prayer. “Will you please pray that I may be more patient?” he asked. The aged saint agreed. They knelt together and the man began to pray, “Lord, send this young man tribulation in the morning; send this young man tribulation in the afternoon; send this young man....” At that point the young Christian blurted out, “No, no, I didn’t ask you to pray for tribulation. I wanted you to pray for patience.” “Ah,” responded the wise Christian, “it’s through tribulation that we learn patience.”
It’s been said, “Pain is nothing compared to the emptiness that comes from quitting.”
Every couple enjoys their fair share of fortune and suffers misfortune like any other couple. An article published several years ago in USA Today (11/14/95) about what most people say are the most difficult things to manage in the household still rings true today. 26% of the respondents said finances were the most difficult to manage; 21% claimed household member’s schedule was at fault; 20% blamed communication with family and friends; 17% attribute chaos in the family to household chores and errands; and still 17% said “others.”
After Abram and Sarai had settled in Canaan, external and internal forces soon bore down on them. Abram and his family and entourage were on the right track initially, but a famine sidetracked them. A famine is an environmental and agricultural downturn at its worst. Abram’s confidence in God’s guidance and provision was shaken. Canaan, not Egypt, was the Promised Land. They were supposed to be in Canaan (v 5), but after dropping anchor there, they panicked and fled to Egypt at the first sign of trouble (v 10). The same Hebrew equation for “the famine was severe” reappears one other time in Genesis 43:1, which characterized the early days of the famine that began in Joseph’s time but not its worst, at which the famine had become “very severe” (Gen 47:4: The Hebrew word “very” is missing from NIV).