I am humbled today by the patience and steadfastness of Isaac. This starts in the beginning of Genesis 26 when there was a famine in the land. As he is deciding where to go, presumably so that he can take care of his family, God has an interesting message for him. In effect, he says, “hey, don’t go to Egypt. Instead, stick around here and hang out in this land. If you stay, I will be with you and bless you. In fact, remember the promise that I gave your father, Abraham? I told him that he would be the father of nations. If you hang out with me here, you will be the one that helps me establish my promise to him.” Wow! That is a pretty serious honor. Isaac does, what any of us would do with such huge prospects ahead of us. He settles in the land God suggested, Gerar.
According to the scripture, God made Isaac very wealthy, very quickly. Yet, that same year, king Abimelech demands that he leave the valley. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had just become rich I would be doing everything in my power to hold on to what is mine. Moreover, I would be even more pugnacious because God himself promised me. Isaac, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to mind. Without delay, he packs up and moves on, displaying incredible patience.
Perhaps Isaac is bolstered his patience with the prospect of using his father’s old wells? Surely he considered these to be part of God’s plan. I certainly would have. Unfortunately, he would quickly discover that the old wells were no longer useful. They would need to be re-dug because the Philistines had spitefully filled them in. To his credit, he was not deterred by the extra work and effort. Not only would he rebuild the wells, he would show honor and gratitude for them, reestablishing the name of each, in homage of his father’s legacy.
Isaac endured trouble steadfastly. Every time he rebuilt a well, finding water, the neighboring people would come over and quarrel with him, claiming it for their own. What did he do? Nothing. He moved on and did it again. This perplexes me greatly. Everything in me wants Isaac to fight for what is his. Not only did Abraham establish these wells, God promised to provide for and prosper him. I want him to fight! Instead, Isaac moves forward, steadfastly, knowing that God will provide. It pays off. He finally digs a well and there are no quarrels. How does he respond? Not with a single thought or inkling that he had finally received his due, as I may have. Rightfully, Isaac responds with full thanks and gratitude to God. It was pure worship.
As I read through this story of Isaac, God reminds me that His promises are good, trustworthy and guaranteed. Unfortunately, God’s good promises can become feelings of entitlement and presumption. When they do, be reminded that the object of our affection has shifted to ourselves. Isaac never considered his own gain as a victory. Instead, all glory, honor and praise were for the Giver.