“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Shaddai). I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
I had a friend years ago who told me the story behind her difficult marriage. Sadly, out of rebellion towards God for allowing a tragedy in her life, she left her walk with God and began living life on the wild side. She met a man and they began to date and before long, she found herself pregnant and getting married. Fast forward a few years and three children later and she was back serving the Lord with gusto, but unfortunately, her family life was not what she had pictured for herself as a young Christian girl growing up looking forward to marriage and family. She is faithful to her vows to remain married for better or for worse and is obedient to serve the Lord at all costs. But, there is no shared interest in this from her husband. The choice she made so many years ago to live life on her own terms and step out of the will of God is a price she is still paying today. She prays for the salvation of her husband and has faith that El Shaddai, Almighty God, can restore and redeem.
Genesis 16 tells of another unfortunate situation when Abram did not wait on God to fulfill His promise given in chapter 15 to make his offspring as countless as the stars in the sky (15:5). He allowed his wife Sarai to convince him to take Hagar, her Egyptian maidservant, to produce the son that was promised by God since she, herself, was barren. They took matters into their own hands and did not wait on God to fulfill His promise in His time. This union produced Ishmael, and it is from this line that conflict with Israel can still be traced today.
Once Hagar conceived, Sarai blamed Abram for her suffering and began to mistreat Hagar. Genesis 16:12 describes Ishmael as a “wild donkey of a man” whose “hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him.” Thirteen long years passed before Abram heard another word from God: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am El Shaddai (God Almighty); walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.’” (Gen 17:1-2)
This is the first time in scripture that God refers to himself as El Shaddai, and at this point, God takes an impossible situation and shows that He is the ‘All Sufficient One’ (another translated meaning for El Shaddai). He changes Abram’s name to Abraham and makes an everlasting covenant with him and his offspring – not through Ishmael born of Hagar – but through the son Isaac that he would have with his wife Sarai. Remember Abraham was a hundred years old and Sarai was barren and was 90 years old at this time! God changed her name to Sarah and blessed her “so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Gen 17:16) God followed through with His promise to Abraham to make him the father of many nations but it may have come much earlier and without the heartache, if he and Sarah had waited on God – which they ended up having to do anyway!
Because God tells us He is El Shaddai – God Almighty! All Sufficient One! – we should stand strong in our faith, exalt his name, and take care to avoid taking matters into our own hands. In his message about El Shaddai, Dr. Tony Evans says “many of us have created detours in our lives by going out on our own independently of God, creating a mess that elongates our wait on His miracle.” Know Him, know His name…God Almighty, El Shaddai, and believe what this name says about Him – He is able to step into any situation and “overrule what appears to be overruling you.” (Dr. Evans)
If you are waiting on God through a difficult circumstance and it seems too much to bear, then resolve to rest in El Shaddai like the author of Psalm 91:1-2, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Shaddai). I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Try reading this verse daily as you wait upon the Lord and be comforted by El Shaddai – our Nourisher, our All-Sufficient One, our Almighty God who is more than enough! THIS is the God we serve!