In the quiet of the morning, the load of food and a skin of water was placed on already burdened shoulders and the hope of stability and a home was left at the feet of Abraham. Walking alone in a desert, with no clue of where to go or what to do, water ran dry, fear of her son’s death brought crippling fear and tears was all that she had left. Hagar and her son, Ishmael’s life in the desert was a moment of hopelessness. A moment of thinking, “I did all the right things, I did what I was told, and yet my son and I sit here in a dry desert with no water, no hope, and a future that look bleak and despairing.”
As we read in Genesis, Hagar was Sarah’s maidservant, and when the promise to Abraham and Sarah of a baby boy was not coming fast enough, Sarah took things into her own hands and asked Abraham to lay with her maidservant, Hagar. She birthed a son named Ishmael, and tension surfaced out of an act of disobedience from the moment it happened. Tension formed between Sarah and Hagar, Abraham and Sarah, and then between the promised son, Isaac and the first-born son, Ishmael. With this discord something had to be done, and without a say, Hagar had to be the one to go.
Hagar… I thought of her as we enter into a New Year, and of my friends and loved ones that are also walking in a desert season. I wonder, “did Hagar look back at Abraham as she walked away, hoping to hold on to the only thing she knew that gave her stability? Or did she walk forward into the unknown without looking back? In the weariness of desert seasons, are we looking forward in hope to see what only our God can do, or are we looking back at what once was? Whether we are entering this New Year sitting by streams of water in beautiful pastures or in a dry, desolate desert with unanswered questions, are we willing to trust God in the impossible? In this New Year, are we willing to take a step into unknowns with a forever faithful God?
In a moment of impossibility and hopelessness, Hagar had her son sit under a bush, and they both began to cry. THEN, “God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from Heaven and said to her, “what is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21:17-19).
I believe this story reminds us all that we are never alone, and God is truly the God that sees and the God that hears. No matter what you are facing in this New Year, don’t look back, but walk this new season out with great faith and trust that God will provide the well, the water and the needs. Faith that God will not leave you. Cry out to Him, for He hears you, and He sees you and He absolutely loves you with every part of who He is. Take that step forward and trust Him in the journey. Hagar might have looked back as she was walking into unknowns, but at the end of the story God reminded her that looking forward points to His faithfulness in the promise of new beginnings, of walking through the hard things with us. God will lift you up in the desert places of your life and He will make a way when there seems to be no way. Happy New Year my friends.
Praying faith arises in your heart and mind as you draw closer to God in whatever deserts you may find yourself in.