Summary: Unfortunately, Family Feuds don’t only occur on a game show...they are a reality.
Pt. 2 - Bye, Bye, Bye
Family Feuds make for good tv whether it is in the form of an incredibly funny game show or all too real glimpse into family interactions that show all the bumps and bruises . . . Dynasty, Dallas, and now Empire. It is all good on tv but when Family Feuds slip over into real life they are very seldom laughing matters. Family Feuds create lifelong limps and open wounds. Wrong words, looks, actions from family have life altering impact. The truth is very few families are immune to this. In fact, one of the challenges I faced in this series is to narrow down text for examination. You would think since our discussions are based on the Bible that we would have to really work to find any examples in Holy Scripture to find a family that wasn't Cosby-esqe. Every issue resolved in 30 minutes and all sides happy and dancing together. However, if you know Scripture, the truth is that it is harder to find a "Leave it to Beaver" type family than it is to find a "Hatfield and McCoy" type family. This shouldn't be that shocking when you discover the first family feud is found in the first family. That's pretty quick isn't it? The very first family sets the pace for every family that follows and they couldn't escape a feud. Pain is often first revealed or revealed first in families.
Text: Genesis 21:8-14 (Message)
The baby grew and was weaned. Abraham threw a big party on the day Isaac was weaned. One day Sarah saw the son that Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, poking fun at her son Isaac. She told Abraham, “Get rid of this slave woman and her son. No child of this slave is going to share inheritance with my son Isaac!” The matter gave great pain to Abraham—after all, Ishmael was his son. But God spoke to Abraham, “Don’t feel badly about the boy and your maid. Do whatever Sarah tells you. Your descendants will come through Isaac. Regarding your maid’s son, be assured that I’ll also develop a great nation from him—he’s your son, too.” Abraham got up early the next morning, got some food together and a canteen of water for Hagar, put them on her back and sent her away with the child. She wandered off into the desert of Beersheba.
This is a pivotal account in all of history because it is in fact the moment that all of the conflict of the Middle East was born. You can see the genesis of it here comes from Ishmael ridiculing the son of promise, Isaac.
You know the account. Abraham and Sarah are childless and although they have received a prophetic word from God Himself they refuse to be patient and wait (WORD). They take matters into their own hands apparently thinking they knew better than God how to obtain their dreams. Sarah sends Hagar to Abraham and they conceive a son. Not long afterwards the Word of the Lord comes true (someone taught us that He is always on time) and Abraham and Sarah do get pregnant. They have the son for which they had longed and waited. Isaac is the special son. Favored. Preferred. Destined for inheritance. Of course this also creates a family feud because our own attempts to fulfill God’s promise always become a point of embarrassment and contention once the authentic manifestation of God’s promise shows up! So a feud is birthed. Ishmael begins to ridicule and pick on Isaac. The problem was Sarah saw it and she demands that Abraham deal with this situation by sending Hagar and Ishmael away forever. Sarah’s response shows us some insight how we are supposed to respond when family, friends, or people around us resist or ridicule our promise.
She teaches us that we must develop the “Gift of Goodbye!”
Before I go any further I want to stop and acknowledge that Abraham struggled with this. Scripture plainly says that Sarah's demand caused Abraham great pain. He wasn’t heartless. He was emotionally attached to Hagar and Ishmael. It is necessary to acknowledge that or we sit in an environment like this and it seems as if what we are talking about today is easy or painless. Don't be silly. This isn't easy. This isn't painless. Developing the gift of goodbye is difficult and will produce pain. However, the question must be answered . . . If we don’t develop this gift because we want to avoid pain, then what is the cost? Is a pain free existence worth the destiny it will cost us? Is maintaining an antagonistic, demeaning, belittling, argumentative, toxic, caustic, destructive relationship a fair trade for not saying goodbye? Is keeping the relationship worth all of that? Sarah came to the conclusion, and so must we, that destiny is more important than enduring great pain. You have an obligation to your destiny! You must be as committed to your promise as God is! So saying goodbye as hard as it is is a necessary skill.