Opening Our Eyes to the Well in the Desert: Hagar, the Refugee

Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink. — Genesis 21:19

As the sun rose on the day the world stopped turning for Hagar, Abraham shook his second wife and their son Ishmael awake, holding a packed bag. Abraham “got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders…” (Genesis 21:14a). Upset but resolved, Abraham explained that his first wife Sarah had commanded that he get rid of Hagar and Ishmael. Sarah considered Ishmael a threat to the secure future of his second son, Isaac. She must leave, he said.  Hagar became a refugee overnight, on the run from people who didn’t want her. Forced to flee.

The weight of the pack on her shoulders, and the weight crushing her heart — the fear, the shock, the disbelief — all blurred together as Hagar felt her future slip away.  Abraham had no plans for them except to abandon them to the desert with a container of water.

“But Abraham!” I can imagine her whispering, hardly able to breathe, “Sarah gave me to you as your wife so you could have a child. You and Sarah…we… raised Ishmael for thirteen years, all of us believing he was the son God promised you, until Isaac came! Ishmael has only known wealth, honor and love. What will our future be now? How will I provide for him? Who will take care of us? Where will we go?”

When our heart sinks with grief for Hagar and her losses, we remember our own story of a terrifying moment — a conversation, a call, a traumatic experience — when we knew our life would never be the same. And we can also identify with the millions of women on the run from evil instigated by injustice. In places like Sudan, Syria, and Somalia, women and children right now are experiencing the plight of Hagar.

It’s a plight that soon shifts from shock to despair, whether we’re in Africa or Arkansas. The future stretches out as desolate as a desert, with no water in sight.

Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. ‘I don’t want to watch the boy die,’ she said, as she burst into tears. — Genesis 21:14b-15

Hagar wandered aimlessly. Her water ran out. She hid her dreams behind a bush so she didn’t have to see her future die. And she cried. We are Hagar sometimes. Refugees are always Hagar, sitting in the wilderness of a new country, placing the things important to them one hundred yards from their heart so they don’t have to watch them die. They’re not sure how they’re going to survive because they’ve run out of “water”, the basic things they need to survive, like jobs, language, and the means to keep getting food, clothing and shelter. Many refugees find themselves later face-down in the place they’ve landed, crying.

But then came another twist in the story for Hagar. A good plot twist this time. God wants to be famous for His compassion. He wants to world to know that He sees and loves people who are helpless, oppressed, and vulnerable (Numbers 14:18, Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Isaiah 1:17) and that it is His nature to come to their rescue.

But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, ‘Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.’ — Genesis 21:17-18

Comfort came first, when the angel asked her to reveal the reason for her tears. He calmed her fears, telling her not to be afraid. He gave her assurance of God’s nearness and instant accessibility when the angel said God heard her son’s crying. He then planted a seed of new dreams and told her to revive the boy’s hope by revealing God’s good plans for her son’s future. Later, the Bible says that the Lord was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness (Genesis 20:20) and he did indeed become a father of many nations (Genesis 25:12-16).

When we find our tears staining the scorching sand of a desert, we too, can be sure that God wants to comfort us, is moved by our tears, and wants to reveal His plans for our good future.

The future is not just far away, but also practical and in the present. God delighted to expand Hagar’s perspective on an impossible situation.

Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink. — Genesis 21:19

Here’s the thing to notice: The water well existed all along. Maybe for a hundred years. God didn’t make the well appear out of nowhere. Hagar just didn’t see it. God opened her eyes to His provision right in front of her. I can imagine God saying, “I know something you don’t know. Trust Me. Look! There’s a well right there in front of you. Let Me show you.” Hagar instantly filled up her container with the water, and crawled back across the desert to revive her son.

We can also ask God to reveal solutions we haven’t thought of and to open our eyes to see things that we cannot yet see. We can ask God where the “well” is, and if it might be time to fill up our container, cross the 100-yards of our desert where we left a dream to die, and give that dying thing a drink!

As we drink deeply from the well of provision in front of us, let’s be a voice of comfort for those Hagar’s resettling in our own country, some of them moving in next door to us. Let’s cry, and then pray with them, asking God to reveal the good future He intends for them. He will open our eyes to the well we often cannot see, and let them — and us — taste a fresh drink of Jesus Christ, the living water.

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Original post for Faith.Full written by Jeannie Marie, author of Across the Street and Around the World.

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Your Turn

God wants to comfort us, is moved by our tears, and wants to reveal His plans for our good future. And, He wants us to share the hope of Jesus with those who are still in the desert, who still need water, who still feel abandoned and fearful. Let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes to the sisters around us who are Hagar today and let’s comfort them. Come share your thoughts and prayers with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

Jeannie Marie

Jeannie Marie is a strategist for an international agency that recruits, trains, and sends long-term field workers to more than fifty countries. An inspirational trainer, Jeannie also teaches nationally on building relational bridges with people from other faiths and cultures. Jeannie and her husband and four children live in the sunny suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona.

Follow Jeannie Marie on:   Twitter   Website

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