Matins Devotion: March 7, 2023
Family life in the Scriptures is often quite messy, which is something we see in our reading from Genesis this morning. Poor Hagar was used to solve the problem of Sarah’s barrenness. The slave woman did what she was told and gave birth to a son in Sarah’s place. But now, after her son did pretty normal snotty kid stuff upon at the feast in Isaac’s honor, she receives the harshest of punishments. She finds herself cast out in the wilderness, unable to look at the face of her precious son whom she is terrified is going to perish before her eyes.
How could Abraham, God’s chosen one, do this to her? How could his wife be so cruel? And how could their God condone all of this? How could He let this happen? Well, in the midst of her sorrow, God comforts Hagar with the promise that her son will live and he will also make him into a mighty nation. Though she has been cast out, she will thrive. Though she has been abandoned, he has not abandoned her.
Family life today is also quite messy. We do the things that are expected of us, and yet those who were supposed to love us become embittered towards us. They invent phantom sins, condemn us for them, and push them away. And we do much of the same. We resent those we’re supposed to forgive, slander those we’re supposed to defend. We shove those who lightly mistreat us out into the wilderness, even as we know the pain of having to dwell in our own wilderness.
But don’t despair. Forgiveness has come to the wilderness. There, outside Jerusalem, outside the city, Jesus Christ has shed the blood that destroys our sins and drives away starvation and thirst. There, in the flood of Jesus’ blood, the well of water has appeared and revived us, grafting us into the family of God and making us sons of the promise. There the mercy that was promised in the rescue of Hagar and Ishmael has been given to us
So be at peace. You now have the nourishment necessary to reconcile with your family. In the blood of Jesus, you’ll find the strength to forgive them and the strength to ask them for forgiveness. And even if they refuse to reconcile, you can still have peace because you belong to the family of God. In the blood of Christ, you belong to the Father who was never going to abandon you in the wilderness and who will always cover you in His love.