Now the Lord said to Abram, go forth from
your country, and from your relatives and from
your father's house, to the land which I shall show you...
So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him...
and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came
to the land of Canaan...The Lord appeared to Abram
and said, "To your descendants I will give this land."
So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared
to him. Then he proceeded from there to the mountain
on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel
on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar
to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. Abram
journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev. Now there
was a famine in the land...
I love this story, a story of the calling of God on the life of a man. The story of a man who was faithful to follow the Lord, and faithful to give thanks and worship. And what did the Lord call Abram into? He called him straight into a famine, in the very land that He had promised him and his descendants. Abram was faithfully following and worshiping the Lord, and the Lord called him into a hard place.
This is an encouraging story, because sometimes He calls us into a hard place. Sometimes when we are faithfully following His call on our life and His leading in our life, we look up and we are surrounded by famine, or hardness, or barrenness, or leanness, and all the difficulties that are associated with them; and just as famine does not go away over night, neither does this time of hardness. Yes, and it is from the Lord, it is where He has led us, it is where our faithfulness has taken us. Just like in Abram's case.
So, lesson number one from this story is that we can be faithfully following and worshiping the Lord, and come right into a place of famine, a hard lean place that we didn't expect, a time that lasts longer that we expected. Also, there is a second lesson here for us as well. It is seen in Genesis 12:10b-13:1. It is a lesson from the failure of Abram. Instead of staying where the Lord had led him, he took off on his own to Egypt, and it got him in a mess of trouble. Abram was faithful to follow the Lord until it became hard, then he sought his own way out, his own path of escape. How much like all of us is this. Instead of consulting with the Lord, instead of waiting on the Lord, instead of depending on the Lord, instead of trusting in the Lord, he panicked and took off...just as we are tempted to do.
What we must also glean from this story, is the fact that the Lord knew exactly what He was calling Abram into, and called him there anyway. Yes, the promised land was a land of famine, at that moment, but it was still the land of promise, God's intended place for him, a place of blessing. The Lord knew when Abram would arrive, and what would be waiting. Abram was there, in the famine, because that is where the Lord wanted him. The Lord had raised the ante on the testing of Abram's faith, and the hole in his faith then became visible when put to the test.
Friends, I write this an encouragement to those who are in that hard place, or who soon will be, and are there because they are faithfully following the Lord. Be like Abram, who faithfully followed the call of the Lord on his life, but don't be like Abram, who sought his own way of escape and fled when he arrived at the hard place. There are a few verses I would like to leave with you that show us how to handle these times, and handle them in a way that is faithful and spiritually profitable.
First is Proverbs 20:24 Man's steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way.
Second is Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.
Third is Psalm 37:23 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Take heart, my friends, that you have a faithful God who is completely aware of where He has led you, even if you can't understand why. Be understanding that you may not understand the whats and whys of where God has led you. Be trusting in the Lord and His faithfulness, and lean on all that you know to be true about Him. Be patient in staying put where He has put you. Be godly in the midst your circumstances. Be faithful in your stay in the hard place, just as you were faithful in following Him there.
May you be blessed in your faithfulness, and may you see the blessing the Lord has for you in this hard place.