No Win Situations

Chaplain’s Corner

By: Scott Culver

We admitted that we are powerless over our problems – that our lives have become unmanageable.

Genesis 16:1-15

16 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. 5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.  But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thine hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. 7 And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. 10 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.13 And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? 14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. 15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

Sometimes we are powerless because of our situations in life. We may be in a situation where other people have power over us. We may feel that we are trapped by the demands of others and that there’s no way to please them all. It’s a double bind: To please one is to disappoint another. Sometimes when we feel stuck or frustrated with our relationships, we look for a measure of control by escaping through addictive behaviors.

Hagar is a picture of powerlessness. She had no rights. As a girl, she was a servant to Sarai and Abram. When they were upset because Sarai could not bear children, Hagar was given to Abram as a surrogate. When she did become pregnant, as they had wanted, Sarai was so jealous that she beat Hagar, and Hagar ran away. All alone out in the wilderness, she was met by an angel who gave her an amazing message: “Return to thy mistress and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.” (Genesis 16:9-11).

When we are caught in no win situations, it’s tempting to run away through our addictive/compulsive escape hatches. At times like these God is there, and he is listening to our woes. We need to learn to express our pain to God instead of just trying to escape it. He hears our cries and is willing to give us hope for the future.

Genesis 16: 1-4 Since God’s promise of a child had been given, about two years had passed without anything happening. Sometimes the hardest part of recovery is waiting. Here Abram and Sarai show us what not to do when things don’t progress as quickly as we might hope. Rather than accept God’s timing, they took matters into their own hands. They assigned a servant girl, Hagar, to be a surrogate mother to Abrams’s son. This “solution” has been a source of conflict to this day. Abram’s descendants through Hagar are the Arab nations whose conflicts with the Jews keep the Middle East in constant Turmoil.

Genesis 16:7-13 When Hagar could not help herself and recognized her powerlessness over her situation the angel of the Lord came and ministered to her. Until we recognize that our situation is hopeless without outside help, God waits and does not help us. But when we are ready to admit our need and cry out to him, he is ready to step in.

Even though my Ministry is focused on Addiction and recovery, this can help anyone in need of assistance with Mental Health or Substance use issues. This lesson can be linked to any aspect of our lives where we struggle and attempt to fix things ourselves. When we are struggling in any situation, we must realize that we are powerless over our flesh and turning to God is the answer to our struggles.

Scott Culver
International Chaplain
Azusa Streetriders International

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Jeremiah Hayes joined ASR in 2017. He was elected Vice President in 2022, and is currently serving as International President.

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