"Neither Give Place to the devil" (continued)
Therefore, when Sarah told Abraham that the bondwoman and her son must go, "the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son" (Genesis 21:11). Hence, a great struggle began to take place in Abraham; for the word "grievous" implies that he felt as if he was breaking in pieces. He felt that he was a victim of his circumstances and that there was no way out. He was deeply afflicted, dejected and distressed; he was depressed and miserable; and the word "grievous' also indicates that he became hateful, contemptible, and despicable. There are just some of the things that are characteristic of our natural man, which is why the natural man cannot be trusted to handle the Holy things of God.
So, on the one side, Abraham was upset because the plans for his natural man, especially the plans and energies of his religious natural man, were being rejected; and on the other side his heart was breaking for he loved Ishmael very much. Abraham struggled throughout the night, and what a night that must have been. In the Bible, night almost always indicates "great difficulty in finding the way." But, God is faithful, for during Abraham's dark struggle God spoke His word unto Abraham's heart: "Let it not be grievous in thy sight" - which is saying, "Do not let this thing cause you to be dejected, distressed, depressed and miserable. Do not let this thing cause you to be hateful, contemptible and despicable." The phrase "let it not," or "Do not let," indicates that we have control over our natural man; and because of that which Christ is, and of that which He accomplished, we do not have to let our natural man rule in any of these ways, or in any other way.
God did not sympathize with Abraham's natural man. No, God told Abraham, as He tell us, that we must deny our self and take up our Cross. Some may say, "How do we allow the Cross to work in our lives, how do we deny ourselves?" Well, beloved, God's Word to Abraham is the answer. "Let it not be grievous in thy sight..."
In the circumstances of life we will all encounter the "grievous thing," probably more than once; and many times we feel that we are a victim of our circumstances and there seems to be no way out. We may even feel that we are breaking into pieces. We feel that we are afflicted, we feel dejected and distressed, for it seems that nothing that we have desired or hoped for is taking place. And as a result, we become depressed and miserable. Many times we will also allow our situation to cause us to become hateful, contemptible, and despicable; and we usually pour out the hatefulness of our natural man upon those who are closest to us. We do this because we must blame someone besides ourselves for our problem and for the actions of our natural man; or we pour out out hatefulness upon those closest to us because we know they will not desert us even when we are being hateful and contemptible. The words "grievous thing" indicate that Abraham allowed all of these things to take over his life during his great struggle with God's way for his life. But as we have learned, God did not sympathize with Abraham's natural man. No, God told Abraham, as He tells us, "Do not let this be grievous to you"; in other words, the Lord tells Abraham, and us, that we must deny our self and take up the Cross. We must deny our self, we must deny the natural man and its characteristics, and we must take up the Cross - we must live in the reality of all that Christ is and of all that He accomplished.
(continued with # 47 "In order to see how this works")