Genesis 12:10-20 NIV
 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.  As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.  When the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live.  Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”  When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman.  And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.  He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.  But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai.  So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn't you tell me she was your wife?  Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!”  Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.
I have at times had this mistaken notion that being the recipient of God's blessing and favour means that everything always goes perfect in every area of my life. I float around in a cocoon of heavenly bliss. However, as we see here, and elsewhere in Scripture, God's blessing does not preclude difficulties or discomfort. Obedience to God's will doesn't exclude us from pain and problems. Abraham was obedient to God, he was pronounced 'blessed', and here he is facing famine in the very land God promised to give him.
Steps of bold faith will often be tested. We may be left wondering 'did God really say that?'; 'Should we have listened to the naysayers?' Or 'maybe we have made a huge mistake and should just go back home again.' I know I have experienced this on different occasions. You doubt both yourself and God. However, as someone has said, we must 'hold onto in the dark what God has spoken in the light.'
It's our response to these tests that can determine our future. Here we read: "...there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while...". This may have made sense from a human perspective, however nowhere in the text do we read that God told Abram to go to Egypt or even that he enquiries of God what his response should be. When famine hits, Abram takes matters into his own hands. When crisis comes, he relies on his own resources. The father of faith doesn't trust God to meet his needs.
Where do you go when life gets stressful? When your plans don't seem to be working out, do you take it to God or rely on your own wisdom, experience and ingenuinity?
Abram was motivated by fear and not faith. I often say to people – there’s a difference between moving towards something because God is calling you to it - and moving away from something just because it’s difficult or you don’t like it. Most of the time we are better to move proactively in response to God’s leading – and not just in reaction away from difficult situations.
Notice in Scripture, people always go "down" to Egypt but they "go up" to Jerusalem, the Holy City. Egypt represents the world's system of provision and to turn there instead of towards God represents the beginning of a descent morally, spiritually and relationally.
Famine drove Abram to a place God never intended him to go. He allowed hunger to lead him and his family into what became a downward spiral of lies and scheming. In seeking to satisfying our physical appetites we can spiritually starve. Our belly can be full but our soul empty.
As we will see, once in Egypt, Abram faced a new set of problems, for if you run away from one test, you will soon face another. Everything he received in Egypt would cause him great difficulty further down the line.
Your own 'famine' will come in various forms. That's a given. It's where you turn for direction, where you go for satisfaction and how you behave under pressure that often determines the joy or pain, blessings or burdens, you will experience in the days, weeks and months ahead. As Paul would later write:
"Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight."
Or as Eugene Peterson eloquently paraphrases it:
"Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid."
(1 Corinthians 3:18-19)
Have a great weekend and join me again on Monday as we continue on this journey of faith.