Abraham – 4 lessons on getting through difficult times

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I’ve always wanted a mentor, but never quite knew how to go about getting one. Should I just go ask the person I have in mind? What makes someone qualified enough to mentor me? Is it truly worth having one at all? I’ve been through the gamut of pros and cons, appropriate selection methods…the whole works. Needless to say, I am still mentorless. I’ve evaluated this state for a while, and while I am fully aware of the shortcomings of not having one – I’ve come to the realisation that it might be better to mentor than to be mentored. It’s difficult not to receive while giving, so by focusing on how I can give, I’m in a much better position to receive, rather than idly waiting for someone’s nugget of wisdom to drop my way.

I’m now on the hunt to acquire a mentee, or even a few of them (that shouldn’t be difficult given my line of work). I also realised that I don’t need to fight so hard to find a mentor when there are so many around me. I may not be able to have a lunch date with any of them, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to improve the quality of my life. I’m going to start a series on certain people who make great mentors. Whether you have one already, are looking for one, or just couldn’t be bothered, there’s something to learn from these amazing people.

This month’s spotlight mentor is Abraham. What can an old dude who got his groove back as a centenarian teach you? If you focus on the other areas of his life, then you see that señor was actually a pretty smart guy who had a number of amazing life lessons to pass on.

In no particular order, (based on Genesis 12-23):

1) RESILIENCE
If a promise is a comfort to a fool, then Abraham was downright slow to think that he could produce a child at his age. He waited at least two decades to receive God’s promise of a son. It would have required a broad back to withstand all the mockery he must have endured for so long before Isaac made his arrival. Using his faith as a benchmark rather than his circumstances, he recognised the delay for what it was, instead of as a denial.

The dictionary defines resilience as the power or ability to return to the original form, position etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched. Resilience may be mistaken for craziness when a person endures a difficult situation without seeking an easier option or faster solution. Of course, it would be difficult to be perceived as crazy when you’re not. So, it takes bucketloads of determination not to crack under pressure, not to tear when being stretched, so that at the end of it all, you’re still you, only wiser and stronger.

2) CONTENTMENT
A bitter pill to swallow but truth was that Sarah was barren. Continuity of family name was a big issue in those times, and clearly bigamy was not – just check Abraham’s grandson, Israel né Jacob. But, instead of increasing levels of oestrogen in his household just to get an heir, Abraham held fast to his one and only ride or die chick, prepared to leave all his wealth behind to a slave. Now that’s being contented.

As painful as it is to go through a rough time in life, be it loss of a loved one, failing a major exam, losing a prized possession, being unemployed, whatever it is, there is always something to be grateful for. Unfortunately, we don’t see that something until something else is taken away. Or we may be so taken up with focusing on what we do don’t have -the high-flying career, that “perfect” spouse, the popularity- that we lose sight of what we do. But as the saying goes, tending our own lawn has better long term results than studying what the neighbour is doing with theirs. In the loss or absence of a person or thing, consider whom or what you still have, and vow to make the best of the time and talent you have with what is still yours.

3) SHARP EAR
There’s nothing better than recognising God’s voice and listening to it. When based on a foundation of faith, it means that you can walk in obedience, even in the toughest times, which is all God really wants of us. The icing on the cake is that God promises abundant blessings when we obey him.

In Abraham’s case, it was hearing and following God’s command to sacrifice the very same son that he had waited a lifetime for, then hearing God again telling him there was a change in the plan. Of course, Abraham learned that the first instruction was just a test, but the fact is that he still carried it out because he knew who had given it to him. Sometimes it’s easy to know when we are getting direct word from God. Other times, there is so much clutter and noise in our minds that it’s difficult to make out. If that’s the case, just ask God for discernment to know his voice. Even if it seems that you are supposed to do something crazy, just rest in the knowledge that whatever it is will turn out well.

4) DEPENDABILITY
Another portion of scripture says to let your yea be yea and your nay be nay. Translation: be a man (or woman) of your word. Abrahams’s words and actions were in alignment. It spoke volumes that Abimelech, a king, could respect Abraham, a foreigner, so much that he felt such ease making an agreement with him.

Abraham had some family issues going on. The tension between his wife and the mother of his fist but illegitimate son was palpable. And while all this was going on, Abimelech had enough trust in him to seek to make a vow with him. Abraham was still a loyal and trustworthy man, and God blessed him. Regardless of what you’re going through, say what you mean and mean what you say. As my great-grandmother would put it, “Let your morning and evening words agree.” With all the flakes and frauds around these days, it can be difficult to find a dependable person under normal circumstances. But to be dependable even in less than ideal circumstances is priceless.

Clearly, I’m going to have a do a part 2, because I’ve just skimmed the surface. There’s so much to learn from this really great man. Now I have no reason to let so much time pass before I write again 😀

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