The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” Genesis 16:7-9 ESV
Hagar was pregnant and alone in the middle of a wilderness. She had been mistreated by Sarai and unprotected by Abram. In an intensely stressful situation, no one had handled it well. Hagar reached her breaking point and decided she couldn’t take any more. She ran away and headed toward Egypt, her home of origin.
God came to her in her perceived isolation. He noticed her, addressed her with an audible voice, and gave her a life-defining moment. The greatest choice lay in front of her, and it was presented when the stakes were the highest. She could go home and ignore God’s command, or she could obey Him, return to Sarai, and risk more mistreatment.
Every one of us will experience a moment when we long to escape from somewhere. We each have our limits. Oppressive environments drive us to the edge of our ability to cope and we look for any way possible to flee those who mistreat us. (And in the case of personal safety, fleeing is always the right thing to do!) But outside of abuse, what if God asks us to stay? What if bearing up well during harassment bears eternal rewards? It’s possible. God promises treasures in the darkness and, oh, how precious they are. Wisdom, private tutoring, spiritual grit, keen discernment about good and evil. These are but just a few.
Do you want to flee a job where treatment is unfair? Wanting out of a marriage that grew cold long ago? Are you a caregiver to an aging parent, one that doesn’t appreciate your sacrifices? Maybe you’re dreaming of relinquishing responsibility and sending them to a nursing home. The question is whether you and I are willing to stay, or go, depending on God’s revealed will to us. Sometimes, God tells us it’s time to uproot. Other times He tells us to endure for another season of time. We can do either ~ by God’s grace ~ when we know He is personally with us.
What gave Hagar the emotional and spiritual fortitude to return to Abram and Sarai? She had a personal encounter with God. She learned that she was neither forgotten nor alone on her solitary journey. God regarded her kindly, patiently, and with a desire to bless her. Such favor made returning bearable. She knew that she wouldn’t be alone, no matter what the outcome. She heard God’s voice, felt His love, and could depend on every promise He made to her. The God of Hagar is my God today. No matter how desperate I am, He is right here offering an encounter that will fuel obedience.
Stay? Go? No matter what I want, I want what You want more. Amen