We are starting up our series called Fixer Upper this morning. It is all about how God fixes the brokenness in families. To be honest, no matter who you are and no matter what your family looks – families hurt each other. We are broken people living in a broken world with broken people. We will, and do, and have, hurt each other.
Today we will apply Biblical teaching to the topic of household hurts. Before we do, join me in prayer: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is the truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; open our ears to hear what you want us to hear; open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Truth about Household Hurts
We are going to look at a few different Bible sections today, but our base lesson for learning about Household Hurt is from Genesis 16. Because Genesis 16 features a family – it features hurt; it features a family that hurt each other. Take a look:
Sarai, Abram’s wife, had born him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my servant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” (v.1-2)
Briefly: This introduces us to the three main characters in this family. There’s Abram, the husband; Sarai, the wife; and Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant. Briefly – servant or slaves back then would have been a lot different than the violent slavery that we think of in America’s past. Generally, the head of household – in this case – Abram – would have servants who dwelt with his family. They helped fed the sheep, herded the cattle and helped to grow veggies. In exchange, Abram offered protection, food and housing.
He was kind to them. He cared for them.
In essence: they were ‘part of the family.’ Part of the household.
But this family has one key problem: Abram and Sarai, the patriarch and matriarch, didn’t have any children. He had lots of servants. These servants were like sons and daughters to them…but none of them were biological sons and daughters to them.
And if you’ve ever struggled with having children. That’s hard.
But these two had a particular hope. God had promised Abram and Sarai that they would have a child. About 7 years earlier, when Abram was 75 years old (which is already a long time to wait for having a child) God promised Abram that he would have a son. He promised that his son would have children. He promised that from his descendants the Savior of the world would come – namely – Jesus.
That was 11 years ago.
At the time of chapter 16 – Abram is now 86 years old. Was it ever going to happen? Were they ever going to have a child? Would they forever be – that rich couple that can’t have kids?
In verse 2, Sarai has enough. Look at her plan: “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go; sleep with my servant; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Do you sense the desperation? Her idea is simply: “Go; have sex with that attractive employee of ours – then, I can be an adoptive mother of sorts.”
What do you think?
There are a lot of morals lacking in today’s world – but just about everyone – including non-believers and non-church goers would agree that cheating on your spouse is NOT a good idea. It’s morally reprehensible; it hurts trust. It causes all kinds of pain. Even cheating on your boyfriend isn’t good! I was catching a bit of Bachelor in Paradise the other day – not exactly the moral pinnacle of life – and one of the reality stars was upset that the boy she had been dating for 2 days was caught kissing another woman.
That’s after 2 days.
And it’s only a kiss.
How much more pain is there after years of marriage with a lot more than kissing?
To be fair – God was in agreement. Way back at the beginning of the world God said, “For this reason a man will be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Because this sleeping together is an extremely intimate thing. It’s not like a high five. You high five lots of people. You high five your friends, your coworkers, your boss, even that guy at the local pub who’s cheering for the same team as you.
Sleeping together? That’s much more intimate. God’s plan was for it to only be between one other person.
Yet Sarai suggests that they go against God’s plan.
She suggests that they take it into their own hands.
She suggests that Abram sleep with her employee.
And to be fair – Abram doesn’t stop her.
Abram doesn’t say, “This will drive us apart.”
Abram doesn’t say, “But I am a one-woman kind of guy and you are my one woman.”
Essentially, he says, “Cool.”
And Abram slept with Hagar, and she conceived. (v.4)
Guess how well things turn out.
To start, Hagar starts to feel very special when it comes to Abram.
She views him at the very least as the baby daddy – if not a husband of sorts.
But the reality is, she wasn’t. Sarai was Abram’s wife. Nothing could change that.
And that hurts. Because she had been used.
So, since she can’t be his wife and that hurts, she helps herself feel better by rubbing in her motherhood in the face of Sarai.
“I am so glad that I get to be a mother, aren’t you? Oh…wait…that’s right.”
“Oh, sorry Sarai, I can’t join you for a glass of wine – the baby.”
“Isn’t Abram so nice? He’s big and strong and muscular and…oh, is that making you uncomfortable?”
In response, Sarai comes running to Abram: “You jerk! Abram, you are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me.” Notice she doesn’t blame herself for coming up with and encouraging the idea. She blames Abram – and don’t get me wrong, he is to blame. And yes, in Scripture, it is only one sentence. But I imagine this conversation went on for a while. Sarai yelling at Abram. Abram getting defensive. Sarai saying, “You never listen to me.” Abram saying, “You always do this.”
Until eventually Abram has had enough. And he tells Sarai – “Do whatever you want with her.”
Sarai mistreated her. (v.6a)
At least verbally.
“Oh, there’s that (insert female name for other females that sleep around). Were you off sleeping with the rancher? IS that why you’re late?”
The emotional toll is so great that the result is this: Hagar fled from her. (v.6b)
She fled from her household.
She fled from her friends.
She fled from her family.
Does this sound at all similar to your family story? Maybe not the not having children and sleeping with someone else in order to have a child part, but the circular hurt part?
Because pay attention to the cycle of hurt:
Abram and Sarai are hurt; so, they use Hagar and hurt her.
Hagar is hurt. So, she hurts Sarai.
Sarai is hurt so she hurts Abram.
Abram is hurt so he gives Sarai permission to hurt Hagar. And he hurts her in the process, too.
Hagar is hurt – so she hurts them both and runs away with Abram’s baby in tow.
One gets hurt by another.
One hurts the other.
And the other who gets hurt.
Hurts them back.
TRUTH #1: Hurting others never fixes hurt. It only increases it.
And yet that’s how we act in families!
If I call my sister that name, I feel less hurt.
If I look at this porn, I’ll probably hurt my wife, but I’ll feel less hurt for a moment.
If I text mom that I don’t love her anymore, I’ll feel less hurt.
If I flirt with this coworker, my husband might be hurt, but good – I’ll feel better if he knows what it feels like.
It does not work like that.
That’s be like somebody throwing a kickball in your face from about 3 feet away. It would hurt. And so, in order to stop the hurt, you throw a kickball at their face.
Do you feel better?
Not at all.
Hurting others in your family does not help the hurt in your heart.
It only brings more hurt.
And ultimately? It hurts God.
It hurts God and your relationship with God.
Because now you feel guilt.
Now you feel far apart from God.
Now the devil starts to make you question if you are worthy of God’s love.
And suddenly, the other person isn’t the only one that’s hurt. Because the truth is…
TRUTH #2: Hurting others also hurts you.
II. God Sees Your Hurt
Still… Household hurts hurt.
And you might have been very hurt by your family.
By your spouse.
By your son.
By your daughter.
By your sister.
By your brother.
By your mom.
Or your dad.
You might feel like no one understand.
You might feel like no one cares.
You might feel all alone dealing with this hurt.
That’s how Hagar felt. Sarai hated her. Abram hated her. She was despised by the other servants.
She felt used and abused and totally alone in this hurt.
So, she sneaks out at night.
She puts a few of her belongs into a sack.
She runs as fast as her pregnant legs can carry her outside of the camp.
She heads to the desert.
She hits the grounds.
She wets the dry sand with her tears.
No one loved her.
Everyone used her.
No one cared about her pain.
And as she sat there in the darkness of the early morning hours, she felt a darkness overcome her soul that seems impenetrable.
…she saw the light.
It wasn’t the sun.
It wasn’t the moon.
It wasn’t a flashlight out looking for her.
It was something else, something different, something…divine.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar. (v.7)
And he said, “Where are you coming from and where are you going?” Not that he didn’t already know – but he was already giving something that Hagar needed, an ear to listen.
“I am running away from my mistress!” (v.9) She hates me and Abram hates me. And the others hate me. And no one cares about me and no one cares about my pain. No one!
“Hagar. I care about you. I care about you and I see you. Go back home.”
I. Will. Bless you.
And Hagar got up.
And Hagar’s pain subsided some.
And Hagar went back to her family.
TRUTH: The LORD cares for you.
No matter how alone you think you are.
No matter what other family members have told you.
No matter how icy cold they are to you.
No matter how much they have hurt you.
Here is the reality: The LORD still cares for you.
And you might be saying “Prove it! Prove that God feels my pain.”
God so loved the world (are you in the world? Answer: yes. Meaning God so loved you) that he gave his One and only Son (gave him to earth. Gave him up to death. Gave him up to bitterly painful death on a cross for the pains that you have caused) that whoever believes in Him will not perish (meaning you won’t be forgotten about. You won’t spend eternity alone. You won’t be ignored and left to eternal pain) but have eternal life. (Life without hurt. Life without pain. Life surrounded by the One who loves you most – your Father. Your brother. Your family.)
In fact, if you are still doubting it. If you are still thinking that no one cares about you and God probably doesn’t care about you, well, what about these words right now? They aren’t mine; they are God’s! It is God, your Father, speaking to you: “I love you.” It is Jesus your brother beckoning to you: “Come on home.” It is God the Holy Spirit holding up your adoption papers signed in Jesus’ blood to show you: “Yes, you are a part of this family.”
III. What Now?
1. See the God Who Sees You
Because this truth – that God cares, that God is there, that God sees you and sees your pain and is actively doing things to help with that pain – even as he has already done all that’s necessary (on the cross) to take away that pain eternally – this truth helps with our household hurts right now.
In fact, it helped Hagar so much that she stopped drowning her sorrows in the desert and instead focused on this incredible God who saw her and spoke to her. She called him, “The God who sees me.”
It’s kind of like a kid…late at night. He’s nervous because it’s dark and he heard a mysterious hooting coming from outside his window. And he’s trying to be big and he’s trying to be strong, but he’s still a bit nervous. So, he gets out of bed, sneaks to the stairs, and looks at the living room.
They are still here.
And he is no longer afraid.
It’s the same when we spend time in God’s Word.
We are reminded that we aren’t alone.
We aren’t dealing with family pain alone.
We are dealing with family pain – in the presence of the Head of our Spiritual family.
We are in the presence of God.
So…spend time in God’s Word.
Spend time at worship.
Spend time in study.
If you don’t, it will only be that much harder to deal with hurt, but with that truth – the hurt will subside.
2. See the Pain of Others
Because the reality of Hagar’s story is that she wasn’t the only one hurting.
Abram and Sarai both were, too.
If any of them had been able to look past their own hurt and see the hurt of the others around them, the cycle of hurt would have been stopped.
The hurting would have stopped.
There would have been time for healing.
I know it’s hard, but when you are hurting from a fellow family member – trying to focus less on your pain but more on theirs.
That’s what Jesus did! He looks past his pain – that we had sinned against him countless and rejected him as God – and he went to the cross in order to heal our pain and guilt and win us an endless, pain free existence in heaven!
Let the truth that Jesus selflessly sought to heal your pain; to empower you to selflessly heal the pain of your family.
Because the truth is, what I’ve noticed is that when you start focusing on the pain of others in your family, your pain subsides, too.
It’s silly because when we hurt, we tend to only focus on our hurt – again and again and again.
That’s like the time that I had a splinter – and this is a recent time – and I had this splinter and I just sat there and held my thumb and said, “It hurts. It hurts. It hurts.” Guess what? That didn’t make it feel any better. Not at all!
Focus on the hurt of your family.
Watch your own hurt fade, too.
3. Remember: The One Who Sees, Also Hears
In fact, Scripture says this, “Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 That passage is awesome. It’s a command from God in which he says, “Listen to me! I want you to speak to me so that I can listen to you.”
And notice – he wants all of our anxiety.
All of the pain.
Because – Americans are pretty private people. We love to smile politely. Singsong our hellos and say things like, “How are you?” “I’m fine thank you.” – even when things are falling apart at home.
We want to keep our hurt private.
Not with God.
He knows you already.
Share your pain with him.
Tell him about your deepest hurts.
Tell him about how people have hurt you.
Tell him about how the way you have hurt others is hurting you too.
Tell him the things that you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone else.
Cast all your anxiety on him; because he cares for you.
That’s what the man in the Gospel for today did. He had a lot of hurt and a lot of pain.
Physical pain from the incurable leprosy that was eating away at his flesh.
Social pain from being cast away from his friends and family.
Emotional pain from the look of disgust that his own wife gave him as “You’ve gotta get away from me so I don’t get sick.”
He felt alone.
He felt hurt.
He felt like no one cared…until….
“Lord, Jesus have mercy on me?”
And Jesus heard him.
And Jesus saw him.
And Jesus cared for him.
May God begin to heal all of our pain as well. Amen.