articlesqa August 12, 2015 into the desert by way of springs
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo EleyinafeCreator and author of
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 .

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 2:3