January 27, 2023

Hope in the midst of great mourning

Genesis 23

Amber Hapka
Friday's Devo

January 27, 2023

Friday's Devo

January 27, 2023

Big Idea

We can trust God when we don't know how things will turn out.

Key Verse | Genesis 23:1-2

Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.

Genesis 23

Sarah's Death and Burial

Sarah lived 127 years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. And Abraham rose up from before his dead and said to the Hittites, 1 23:3 Hebrew sons of Heth; also verses 5, 7, 10, 16, 18, 20 “I am a sojourner and foreigner among you; give me property among you for a burying place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” The Hittites answered Abraham, “Hear us, my lord; you are a prince of God 2 23:6 Or a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb to hinder you from burying your dead.” Abraham rose and bowed to the Hittites, the people of the land. And he said to them, “If you are willing that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me and entreat for me Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”

10 Now Ephron was sitting among the Hittites, and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, of all who went in at the gate of his city, 11 “No, my lord, hear me: I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the sight of the sons of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead.” 12 Then Abraham bowed down before the people of the land. 13 And he said to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, “But if you will, hear me: I give the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” 14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “My lord, listen to me: a piece of land worth four hundred shekels 3 23:15 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams of silver, what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.” 16 Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current among the merchants.

17 So the field of Ephron in Machpelah, which was to the east of Mamre, the field with the cave that was in it and all the trees that were in the field, throughout its whole area, was made over 18 to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the Hittites, before all who went in at the gate of his city. 19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites.


[1] 23:3 Hebrew sons of Heth; also verses 5, 7, 10, 16, 18, 20
[2] 23:6 Or a mighty prince
[3] 23:15 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

S2:020 Genesis 23

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Dive Deeper | Genesis 23

This time of year can be tough for me when I allow myself to get stuck in grief. Over the years, I have lost three significant women in my life within the first quarter of the year—my grandmother, a great-aunt who was like a mother to me, and my stepmother. The first loss was when I was a child and still didn't quite understand what it meant to have a faith of my own. The other two losses are more recent and, while I still miss time with my loved ones, I am able to rejoice in knowing they are with Jesus and have the hope of being reunited with them one day. This hope gets me through the toughest days when I'm tempted to sit in grief. 

Abraham didn't have this same assurance since he was looking forward to a promised Messiah who had not yet come come. Yet, Abraham mourned with great hope. His faith in God motivated him to mourn and weep for his wife Sarah, but then move forward with selecting a burial place for her in a foreign land—the Promised Land. This shows us the impact his faith had on his actions after such a most significant loss. God had promised him land, seed, and blessing (Genesis 12:1-3); and he trusted that promise. He could have easily gone back to his homeland to bury Sarah as was the custom, but he trusted that God would give him and his descendants this land. Because of his great faith in God's promise, he took time to grieve but was hopeful for his and his family's future. 

We can also trust God's promise for our future (eternal life) when faced with difficult times of loss—whether death or other types of loss (Titus 1:2). When dealing with significant loss, it helps me to remember God's goodness and think about the future hope of eternity. This hope in Christ helps me move forward in times of grief and have an eternal perspective. This doesn't mean I don't shed tears in seasons of loss, but when I do, I know who will wipe away all my tears one day.

This month's memory verse

We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

– John 1:45b

Discussion Questions

1. How do you process grief?

2. What are some Bible verses that help you in times of grief or sorrow that you can share to encourage others today? Share them in a comment below.

3. if you're experiencing a difficult season of loss, please consider Watermark's grief recovery ministry Griefshare to be encouraged and strengthened in your faith as you walk through this time.

4. God gives you space to mourn and desires that you cry out to Him. Music is something that helps me process and keep my eyes on the Lord. May this song bless you today as much as it has me: Though You Slay Me by Shane & Shane.

Respond to Today's Passage

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Hugh Stephenson

GM Amber!! Thank you and Mark for the amazing blessings you all are to all of us! Q1. Not well. Usually I bury it and move on. More recently I embrace it and pray/journal. A lot. Q2. Life verses Philippians 4:6-7 and Matthew 11:28-30. All of Psalm 23 and Psalm 139. The picture of Heaven God gives me in Revelation 21 and 22 is just amazing. Q4. Worship music is the balm of Gilead for me, https://www.gotquestions.org/balm-of-Gilead.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balm_of_Gilead Mahalia Jackson sings of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCiu4du-xIw ———————————————— At first glance it’s not obvious what God wants to tell me via this chapter. When I step back and consider that the audience is the Exodus generation that fled Egypt- the picture comes more clearly into focus. Abraham was a sojourner, just like them. So, his call to faithfulness looked like buying land in Canaan.

Hugh Stephenson

He was NOT going back to UR- (It was the custom of the time to bury family members back in their prior homeland). Further, he was willing pay 400 shekels of silver for a gravesite. At the current price of silver this is about $38,400 in today’s dollars. By reference, David paid 1/8 of that for the site of the temple. ———————— What does my call to faithfulness look like? I identify with Abraham as a “sojourner”. My family is part Cherokee, (N. Ga.), Scottish, English, and Welsh. They came to the US from- -the Asian Land bridge, (Cherokee), -the Mayflower, -the Scottish diaspora after Culloden etc. My paternal great-grandfathers were- -an itinerate Methodist minister and -a railroad conductor. Always traveling. Maternally, the family worked its way down the east coast and settled in Wilmington NC, helping to found the town in 1725. Always traveling.

Hugh Stephenson

I was born when my dad was working in Savannah, GA. Then he transferred to Indiana, then back to Atlanta, his birthplace. Always traveling. I’m from nowhere. --------------- Faithfulness? Hebrews 12:1-3 I know that He created me and saved me to be a channel of blessing. My TDY is not over. When my older sister died we sprinkled her ashes into the ocean in front of the Carolina Yacht Club, (CYC), which my ancestor co-founded in 1853. Years later we got my parents ashes and did the same. When my TDY is over my ashes will be there also. Why? I hope my family, friends and descendants will direct their hearts to heaven. Not to a grave site. Come to that spot on the beach and read Psalm 19. Stare out at the ocean, clouds, and stars. Marvel at God’s creation. Then read Revelation 21-22.

George Dalton

Amber you are a blessing to us who have the privilege and honor to know you. Thank you for how well you lead and encourage so lovingly. Thank you for allowing us to share the burden of your grief when so often isolation feels like the response we desire when we are grieving. Thank you for living out the hope you have so beautifully in your radiant smile, tender heart and encouraging words. You are a gift to us. And we thank God for you my sister.

Patrick Gibbons

Verses that help me are many. Here are only a few (looking them up is on you): Ps 23; Prov 3:5-6; Matt 6:9-13; Ps 34:19; Jer 29:11; Ps 25:15; Rom 8:28; Is 40:31; Phil 4:8 ; John 16:13; Rev 3:10; Josh 6:1-20 (“Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.” Joshua‬ ‭6‬:‭1‬-‭2‬ ‭ESV‬‬” God’s promises are absolute and sure, whether we can see it in the moment or not.)…

Michael Sisson

Re: Gen 23:1-2 According to Jewish tradition, Sarah died upon learning of the binding of Isaac. Re: Gen 23:4a Gen 23:4 (NIV) “I am an alien and a stranger among you….” G-d calls His people to be set apart; holy as He is holy. (Lev 19:2) Consequently, this world is not our home. (Phil 3:20) We are too are aliens, sojourners. (See also Heb 11:9,13) The Holocaust may be the ultimate expression of what it is to be aliens and strangers in this lost and hostile world. Today, 1/27/23, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. You can learn more here. https://www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/holocaust-remembrance-day-2/ Re: Gen 23:15 Gen 23:15 (NASB) “My lord, listen to me; >>>a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver,<<< what is that between me and you? So bury your dead.” By going out of his way to mention the value of the property, Ephron would seem to be feigning generosity while actually naming an exorbitant price. Re: Gen 23:17-18 Gen 23:17-18 (TLV) Now Ephron's field that is in >>>Machpelah<<< next to Mamre— >>>the field and the cave that is in it, and all the trees that are in the field in all its surrounding territory—was handed over to Abraham as a purchased possession<<< in the eyes of the sons of Heth, before all those who enter the gate of his city. This is the only piece of the Promised Land Abraham owned in his lifetime. Moreover, it’s name, “Machpelah,” is a Hebrew play on words which might also be translated “the naked couple.” Paired with the surrounding trees, the parcel of land is an allusion to Eden. — The BibleProject

Chris Landry

Good morning, Hapka’s. You’re such a blessing to us. We love y’all and Titus so much. See you guys on the pitch soon enough. I don’t know the process of grief in multiples like you and others around me. I feel fortunate but also I can feel scared. I’ve lost 3 of 4 grandparents. The first one was the hardest. He was a hero to me. What crushes my heart for others, is when it’s unexpected loss. I can’t fathom. At all. I can try but I’m sure it’s beyond my comprehension unless I’ve been through it. The song you mentioned by the Shane’s (Though You Slay Me) and John Piper’s mini-sermon near the end of that song have been water for my soul when I get anxious of fearful about the next life event that may bring grief. Everyone should listen to this song in light of processing the idea of grief and loss - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qyUPz6_TciY Story behind the song: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z9g9WUKMQ2c “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,” ‭‭Nahum‬ ‭1‬:‭7‬ “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34‬:‭17‬-‭18‬ Words matter and people think this Romans verse is overused. I say no way! Read it word for word. And again. And again….. “AND WE KNOW that in ALL things God works for the GOOD of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭28‬ ‭

Sue Bohlin

Thanks, Amber. Today I meet Abraham in his grief over losing his beloved Sarah, in a time of my own grief. Yesterday and today have been weepy days. Everything triggers tears. I am feeling acutely the loss of my speech, of my voice. I miss how I used to be able to talk. I think perhaps the Lord is using this trial to open a door for me to minister the gift of understanding to people wrestling with the weight of grief and loss and the pain of missing people and things that have been taken away. This passage honors what may well have been a century-long marriage, with unspeakably huge pain of loss when Sarah died. As Ray and I look forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary next year, I can only begin to imagine what it would be like to enjoy each other for twice as long!

Amy Lowther

1. I am usually stunned because deaths are not scheduled. I pray for the person who died and for the family of the person who died. I contact the family and closest friends of the person who died and help with whatever is needed. 2. I do not have any “ go to” verses for sorrow or grieving. 3. God bless everyone. 4. Music is a blessing.

Laura McCoy

Amber, great encouragement you provided in your devotional and so relevant to what each one of us will likely face multiple times in our lifetime - the loss of loved ones. Thank you for the reminder to remember God's goodness and have an eternal perspective in the midst of grief. It's easy to give ourselves permission to wallow in our sadness, but we cannot forget the incredible HOPE found in Jesus Christ. As you know, losing two grandparents within a month of each other last August was heart-wrenching, but also a time of gratitude as both had given their lives to Jesus only months earlier. Their legacy - even in someone's 90s, it's never too late to be saved. Because of their story of salvation and passing, it has given me an urgency to share the gospel like never before. There are days that my heart hurts because I feel their absence and the memories are still so vivid. But, one day, I will see them again!