A Wilderness Experience
by Danna Appleby
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A WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE
Genesis 18:14 Is anything too hard for the Lord?
Have you ever had an experience where something became so real to you that you knew without a doubt God was speaking directly to your heart? At the time that happened to me I had been going through a wilderness experience and was desperate to hear from God. Somehow, I knew He saw my need and wanted to show me His awesome greatness.
One day as I sat at my desk, I tuned into a radio broadcast and heard a minister speaking about Hagar, the maidservant of Abraham’s wife, from Genesis 16. I was so taken with the story because of my own plight that I decided to do a study of my own about Hagar.
When I returned home, I searched for a new women's devotional concerning women of the Bible that I had never used. When I located it, I opened immediately to a page where Hagar was the topic. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe God wanted me to reflect on the story because of my own situation and to assure me once again that He indeed cared for me just as He cared for Hagar thousands of years ago.
As the story goes, Sarah, the wife of Abraham, became so desperate to have a child that she decided to have one through her Egyptian maidservant Hagar. Basically, she was losing patience and not in step with God’s timing. She tried to help God out, you might say. Sarah no doubt knew the promise God had made to her husband that he would have “many descendants,” but in all reality she knew that their biological time clocks were ticking away.
I have found that jumping the gun before God’s promises come to pass does not work. I also see that God doesn’t need my help in accomplishing His will and have learned that I need to allow Him to do what needs to be done. He is more than capable of accomplishing everything His way.
Sometimes we may have to wait on a promise God gives and there are other times our promise may come to pass overnight. When God makes a promise, you can rest assured He will fulfill it. But as we all know, it’s difficult to wait.
Hagar had no say so in the situation since she was a slave and commanded to do what her master asked of her, so she became the second wife of Abraham. Soon afterwards Hagar realized that she was going to have a child. Hagar then began to despise her mistress and that didn’t set well with Sarah. Abraham told Sarah to do whatever she thought best and then became very unkind to Hagar. Hagar then fled from Sarah’s presence, but who could blame her?
Hagar was no doubt concerned and wondered what was going to happen to her and the baby she held inside of her. At the time the angel of the Lord found Hagar, she was near a spring in the desert and asked her where she had come from and where she was going. Hagar answered and said that she was running from her mistress. The angel told her to go back and to submit to Sarah and that her descendants would be too numerous to count. He also told her that she would bear a son and she was to name him Ishmael, for the “Lord had heard of her misery.”
Hagar gave a name to the Lord who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Hagar decided to go back and do as the angel said and soon Ishmael was born.
This part of the story I really love because it tells how this young Egyptian girl actually recognized “who” God was even giving Him a name. Hagar recognized that God indeed saw her and knew her needs. She also recognized that there was Someone watching over her and her child.
Unfortunately, things were not a bed of roses after Hagar went back to camp, and, in fact, it was a somewhat “thorny” situation to be more precise about it. But fourteen years passed by and finally Sarah decided that she had had enough of Hagar and her son and wanted them out of her sight and wanted them out of the camp. By that time, Sarah had seen God’s promise come to pass in her own life and had a son of her own and had named him Isaac.
Abraham decided to do what Sarah asked and sent Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness with only a skin of water and some bread. It didn’t take long for mother and son to be near the point of death because their provisions ran out.
Hagar was not able to bear the sight of her son dying before her very eyes and so she laid him under a shrub and seated herself about a bowshot away. God heard the sound of the boy’s cries and had an angel call down to Hagar saying, “What is the matter Hagar? Do not be afraid for God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.”
Suddenly Hagar opened her eyes and saw a well of water right in front of her. Hagar then went to fill the skin of water and gave the life-giving refreshment to her son.
God caused a great miracle to happen in the wilderness that day, but He is also on-call any time day or night when we go through a wilderness experience of our own and need a miracle. He hears our cry for mercy and will be there to give us the drink we’re thirsting for. The drink He alone can give quenches the burning thirst of the soul.
Many times God will do the unheard of to help His children during times of distress and will go out of His way to reveal who He really is. Psalm 46:1 tells us: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
To me, there is a correlation in Hagar's story and mine. I didn’t live in a wilderness like she did, but I was walking through a wilderness experience. She had a great need and so did I. God came to the rescue for her and He also came through for me.
My thought is that He saw me and heard my cry when I called upon Him in prayer. I believe more than ever He will come to our rescue when we have needs and are in distress.
What did I learn most out of the story? It confirmed to me more than ever that God is a very real God and not some figment of the imagination.
Secondly, I saw that the Lord is looking after me and loved me more than I even imagined, just as He does you.
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