There are times in the Christian life when we walk through a wilderness experience. God’s voice seems far away. We cannot turn back but have no clear vision for moving forward. The temptation to feel abandoned and despairing will be very real.
This scenario in Genesis 16-21 describes how Hagar, Abraham and Sarah’s servant girl and her young son, Ishmael, must have felt. After being thrown out of their master’s home and left to fend for themselves in a desert wasteland, these two wandered aimlessly for days in a state of emotional shock and physical deprivation.
The loss was devastating. Hagar had not only lost her job, but her status, community, protection, and the ability to care for her son. Though her expulsion was not entirely unprovoked, the severity of her punishment felt like a death sentence.
As we’ve noted in the article “The God Who Sees You and Me”, Hagar had run away from Sarah, her mistress, into this very desert on a previous occasion. In the midst of her turmoil then, God had graciously intervened causing her to realize that though she felt alone and abandoned, He was tenderly watching over her.
This time, however, the rejection from Abraham’s household was irrevocable and the ties had been permanently severed. Now, having run out of food and water, she and her son had given up and were preparing to die.
Have you ever been in a place of such devastating loss? At the point of death, Hagar and Ishmael discovered that God is all you need when He is truly all you have.
Though He did not change their circumstances, God intervened again, and supernaturally provided water, in addition to their other needs, because we learn that they not only survived, but prospered. These dramatic losses were all part of God’s plan to make Ishmael into a great nation.
What is stunning to note is that Hagar and Ishmael’s new life began while they were both still in the wilderness with nothing to cling to but God’s promise that He had a future and a hope for them. In the midst of their utter bankruptcy, God proved to be a source of ample provision, comfort, guidance, protection…and faithfulness.
If your past has been shattered—the loss of a job, a loved one, your health, reputation, etc.—and today you find yourself in a wilderness, fall on your knees, look up, cry out! God is there! He sees you, He knows…and He cares. He has a promise for your future, too.
Open the Scriptures and search for it in His Word. It will leap off the page at you. Press in until you take hold of it and then don’t waver in your belief. Even in the wilderness when all seems lost, God stands ready to richly bless if we learn to learn to listen, trust and follow.