Hagar and the Two Wells: Hope for Wandering Women

"Boy, you gave a bum rap to Hagar, didn't you?"

hat was the response from one lady on another site about my recent post on Abraham and Sarah. Over the years, I've heard similar concerns about Abe kicking this woman and her child out into the wilderness with very little sustenance.

If you, too, are curious as to why it had to be done that way, read my  earlier article, "As Abram Becomes Abraham: Hope for Sarah's Daughters".

But I did write an article some time ago from Hagar's perspective that has been a blessing to many women, especially divorced, single moms. The article also encouraged women who discovered the tables had been turned on them at work or in another situation…just for doing what they were told, and doing it well!

Do you feel as if you've been forced out into a  wilderness, and your provision has run out?

To make matters worse, you have your children with you or someone you care about very much, who is now your ever-increasing responsibility.

Although you tried your best, let's face it--you're in this predicament because of the jealousy of another. Oh, it's not that you were perfect. You did get a little "high-handed" at times, but it boils down to this. You had something that someone else didn't, and it ate at her day and night.

Nevertheless, you weren't in charge. So, here you are. Honestly, the burden is too heavy and you feel as if you cannot go on anymore.

Your situation sounds similar to Hagar's in Genesis 21. She was Sarai's Egyptian maid-servant who was forced to marry and conceive a child with her mistress' husband in order to give him a legal heir. But the wife grew increasingly jealous of Hagar's blessing, as well as her husband's attachment to the young, beautiful girl. Sarai (who became Sarah) finally had enough and demanded that Hagar and her son be sent away.

"Hold on! That's not me, " you exclaim. "I've never done anything like that!"

But have you ever been given a job to do and did it so well that it appears you were punished for just doing what you were told? All of a sudden you're perceived as a threat, and your fruitfulness and appealing skills are under suspicion from the very one that came up with the idea.

Wandering through the desert with no water, the Bible says that Hagar "cast" down her son. He was 19 years old at the time, so more than likely they were both physically exhausted and leaning upon each other for support. She helped him lie down under a small shrub, then walked away so as to not watch him suffer. Next, she prepared to die.

Psalm 55:22 says to "CAST thy burden (gift) upon the Lord, for He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. The Hebrew word for "cast" is the same in both instances. It has a forceful, determined connotation...a deliberate, intense: "throw"!

Hagar couldn't go on anymore. She laid aside even the most important thing in her life when she thought all hope was gone. But that's just what God had been waiting for her to do!

That's what He's telling you in Psalm 55:22: Go ahead, let it go!  Throw it down--now!

And did you notice the Hebrew word for "burden"?  It is 'gift'!

God sees your gift, even when others don't. He knows its tremendous value and will celebrate and provide for it when others refuse. Originally, Hagar's son was a gift to her mistress, but both the gift and the giver ended up being rejected and abandoned.

Nevertheless, the moment Hagar took her hands off, God took up the responsibility to provide what she no longer could. There, right before her eyes, appeared a well.

When reading this story, my question has always been: Was the well there all along, but Hagar couldn't see it because her eyes were focused on her burden, or did God supernaturally manifest the well AFTER she released it?

Either way, the miracle of being refreshed in a desert place is tied to finally letting something go and discovering God has been there all along--ready to provide, ready to talk, and full of promises.

Hagar should have remembered her earlier encounter with God at another well, as recorded in Genesis 16. But being overwhelmed with sustained difficulties can cause our memories to blur when recalling how God came through for us in earlier times.

After Hagar ran away from her harsh mistress, God met the distraught servant at a fountain in the wilderness and gave her a promise. However, the only way the promise could come to pass was for Hagar to go back and serve Abraham's wife for a season.

She named the well of that encounter, Beer–lahai–roi, "The Well of Him That Lives and Sees Me". His promise gave her the courage to go back into a less-than-ideal situation, knowing it was God's will and He had a plan.

So if you're a chapter 16 Hagar, waiting at the wilderness fountain, you may have to go back into the very thing that you ran away from--at least for now--but amend your attitude, humble yourself, and hang on to the promise. When times get hard, remember what you named the well. He is a God who lives and sees exactly where you are.

If you're a Chapter 21 Hagar, throw away the ungodly notion that the promise He gave in one desert He's going to take away in another! What He promised at one well, He'll sustain at this one. Maybe you just can't see it because of your burden. Throw it down and walk away.

Even though people may have kicked you out, hoping you and all that belonged to you would perish, you will nevertheless thrive and so will what came out with you...your children, your ministry gifts, your hopes, your dreams.

Your time at "Abe's" was just temporary, anyhow. You were never meant to stay there. And God blessed ol' Abe and Sarah, too.

So let the bitterness and resentment go, Hagar. Sometimes blessings and callings cannot grow together side by side. The roots will become entangled and compete for nutrients. The end result is that neither gift will reach its potential.*

God has a surprise for you, desert woman: abundant provision--more than enough--if you will first, put down the load you're carrying, then look...

It's not a mirage, Hagar. It's real!

*The giving of Hagar to Abram (who later became Abraham) was not the way God intended to produce an heir. God was, in His time, going to awaken the impotency of Abraham and barrenness of Sarah to produce a miracle child.

However, for Abraham's sake, God promised to bring forth a great nation out of Hagar's son (Genesis 17:20; 21:13,18). Mother and son settled in Paran-the modern day Negev Desert-north of the Gulf of Aquaba. Ishmael became an excellent archer, and Hagar arranged to get a wife for him from Egypt.

According to Midrash legend, as written down and codified by the Tannaim, teachers of the Jewish Oral Law, Hagar was also Keturah, whom Abraham sought out after the death of Sarah.

The Talmud, however, says that Abraham married 3 separate wives: Sarah, Hagar (when given to Abraham for an heir-Genesis 16:3) and Keturah.

Whoever she was, the Bible records that she bore him six sons, who were then given gifts by Abraham before he died and sent eastward and away from his promised son Isaac (Genesis 25:1-6).

These six sons represented the Arab tribes South and East of Palestine. Muslims believe Muhammad to be a direct descendant of Ishmael.

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