Actions that counteract fear – Gen. 26:24

Genesis 26 reads like a little novel, full of plot twists and intrigue. It begins with “Now there was a famine in the land…” Included in the story are accounts of conflict, deception, ruined relationships, relocation, revenge, jealousy, fear.  Much of the conflict in Isaac’s life revolves around water and wells. In that arid region, water was essential for survival. Without it, flocks and herds and crops would die, and eventually, so would the people.

After digging two wells which were basically taken from him (one well’s name meant “dispute” and the other meant “opposition”), he finally digs a well that no one quarrels about with him, so he names it “Rehoboth,” saying “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” (Gen. 26:22)  It’s at this point that God appears to Isaac at night and says, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

I find Isaac’s response both interesting and inspiring.  He took four actions: built an altar, called on the name of the Lord, pitched his tent, and had his servants dig a well.  Rather than wallowing in disappointments and fear, he responded by calling on God and worshiping Him with an altar. It was also his father Abraham’s tradition to build an altar wherever he had a memorable spiritual experience.  God spoke and Isaac replied with worship and prayer.

God promised to bless Isaac and increase his descendants as he had for Abraham, and in belief, Isaac pitched his tent there and dug another well. I’m sure it was difficult to live in a hostile environment with hostile neighbors, but Isaac didn’t let that scare him off.

We shouldn’t either.  Government leaders, society, secular culture – they may be hostile to the Christian cause. But how are we building our altars, calling on the name of the Lord, pitching our tents and digging in?  Positive action trumps negative criticism, in my opinion.  I’m wondering what actions I can take today to counteract fear?  I’ll start with worship and prayer.

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God Hears Our Kids, Gen. 21:17

This morning I read about NaBloPoMo (Nat’l Blog Posting Month, not to be confused with NaNoWriMo = Nat’l Novel Writing Month, which requires 50,000 words in a month – whew!), and decided that I needed this extra push to get back at it.

I’m going to “re-begin” in Genesis and the first verse I came to with “Fear not” in it deals with the very thing I’ve been struggling with for weeks.  On my cupboard door is a laminated verse that I received from our Moms in Touch leader years ago which is from Lamentations 2:19, “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord, lift up your hands toward Him for the lives of your children.”  I’ve been doing that, but with some anxiety and fear attached, I have to admit.

So Gen. 21:17 made me stop the worry train and think about how I’ve been listening (or not) to God lately.  The scene is in the desert. Hagar and her son Ishmael have been banished with only some food and water, which is now gone. Hagar puts her son under a bush and walks about a “bowshot” away, thinking “I cannot watch the boy die. And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.” (Gen. 21:16)

This is true of mothers, yes? We cannot bear to see our children (both little and not-so-much) experience any kind of lack, whether it’s lack of food, friends, finances, whatever. It’s our responsibility to provide for them when they’re young. But in doing this job right, we eventually work ourselves out of the job. The transition is not easy.  There are other aspects of parenting that make us cry, like Hagar, even though we most likely don’t have to worry about their starvation. Still, we want to provide for them.

God’s response to Hagar’s sobs: “God heard the voice of the youth, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the youth where he is.”  God knows. God sees. God hears.  Not only does God see and hear us, but he hears our children, both young and old.

Do we fool ourselves by thinking we are the sole providers of what our children need? I have done this. What God does for Hagar next is revealing. “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.”  (verse 19)  God provides the Living Water.  We can bring our children to His never-ending spring, point them to His all-sufficiency, but as the old horse saying goes, we cannot make them drink.  When they’re thirsty, they will.

Instead of fretting and being troubled, I need to go to the well myself.  I pray for God to open my eyes so I can see His daily provision. Do you have children with extraordinary needs, or ordinary children with extra needs right now?  God wants to know what’s troubling you and wants you to “fear not” because, not only does He hear you,  He hears their voices too.