into the desert by way of springs

The desert is where you try and try to solve every problem your last solution produced.***So far, the angel has spoken to Hagar in Genesis 16:8 and asked her a question that made her look back and also look forward. We began in the last section by looking back. Genesis 16:7 showed us that Hagar was at a spring in the wilderness and on her way to a deeper desert. Now let’s keep moving back in the chapter to see how Hagar found herself by such an unreliable spring.

The Perfect Human Solution…

A quick read of Genesis 16:1-6 introduces us to some characters. Abram is there but he doesn’t figure much and probably should have. Sarai is there and we’ve already met her as the mistress that Hagar is running from. Finally we learn a little more about our lady Hagar and all the things she is fleeing from. Hagar we discover is a maid and so we know that already, she is in a position that doesn’t not afford her much power. She is dependent on other people for her livelihood. Sarai, her mistress, has a problem: she has not been able to have children. She has a bright idea that Hagar will be her solution and offers Hagar to Abram so that her and her husband can have children through Hagar.

I think that this practice was culturally acceptable at the time so I won’t comment on how burdensome and violating it must have been for Hagar. Let’s focus instead on the not so obvious but more important problem. Genesis 16 is a book in the Bible written by God through men. In this chapter of the Bible, we find major problems mentioned in the first 6 verses but not one of the people there talk to God about it. Not one. In fact, Abram’s silence (his failure to speak of the matter to God) makes these verses analogous to Adam’s silence in Eden. The only thing we see Adam do in Eden when temptation comes is chew Genesis 3:6. Later, before God, when he should have kept silence Habbakuk 2:20, he begins to dissemble and accuse his wife Genesis 3:10,12. We have mentioned the characters but in a book of the Bible, we find men and women who do not mention Him or even acknowledge Him. It is appalling that He has to introduce Himself as a character in verse 7. Oh but Praise the Lord! He introduces Himself for, on our own, we never would have mentioned Him.

Creates The Next Problem

Fine then, the cultural “solution” moves forward. Hagar becomes pregnant and begins to look upon Sarai with contempt Genesis 16:4. Which contempt is it? Is the contempt of “I can get pregnant and you can’t so I’m better than you”? Is it the contempt that comes from thinking “Look where you’ve landed me, a young girl with a future, now pregnant with your husband’s child”? In either case, this contempt makes Sarai angry and she, after talking to silent Abram, begins to treat Hagar harshly. Hagar now has two problems. What does she do? Does she call on the God of Abram? Nope. She has a culturally acceptable solution. She runs away as many maids in her position have done in the past.

She has a solution to her own problem. Yet this solution, this answer so clear it could have passed for water, lands her only further in the wilderness. And in the wilderness, she finds another spring that seems acceptable. Only by now, she has almost found her way to Shur, a more barren desert. For the water at the spring looks good. It would have given her the strength to walk to Shur… and then die of thirst. If not for the Mercy and Justice of the Lord to insert Himself into a chapter of His Own Book, to shine His Light into this dark chapter in the lives of Abram, Sarai and Hagar, Hagar would have walked the reasonable, culturally acceptable, “they left me no choice” path to her own death. And from the angel, we find out in Gen 16:10 that not only Hagar would have died but all the peoples and cultures within her child.

We can now begin to see a pattern. My solutions to my problems will only create more problems. These problems will drive me out further and further in search of solutions that will only create more problems. No one ever suddenly arrives in the desert. We all get there by moving from spring to spring. That is why it’s so confusing and we are always so surprised to find ourselves in a dry place. We weren’t trying to get there. We were only trying to do our best. It’s just one obvious human solution after another. This applies not only when other people force us to become their solution but also when we try to be the solution to whatever problem we find ourselves in. For in the dry places, impure spirits abound, Matthew 12:43, looking for company. So both by our own solutions and by spiritual influences we are driven from spring to spring further and further into the desert. So that there is a way that seems right to a woman or a man, especially when there is a problem, but the end is ways death Prov 14:12, 16:25.

But in my God, there is hope!!! He is the Hope, the Light that pursues us into the darkest places. For as Hagar found out, as David found out and as Jesus promised, even in the valley of the shadow of death, even when death is a breath away, even beyond what seems to be your final breath, the Lord seeks and finds His Own Gen 16:8, 21:16-19, Psa 23:4, 30:1-3, Luke 15:4-7, 9-10, 32 .

“This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth; med­i­tate on it day and night, so that you may be care­ful to do every­thing writ­ten in it. For then you will pros­per and suc­ceed in all you do.”
- Joshua 1:8

Wanna reach out and ask me some ques­tions? Or do you want clar­i­fi­ca­tion on some­thing writ­ten here? If so, write me a let­ter. I’d love to hear from you and I’ll respond. I bet your hon­est ques­tion will pro­duce insights that will ben­e­fit other read­ers.