On the way to Shur

“The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’”

Genesis 16:7-8a

Seldom appearing in the lists of biblical heroes, Hagar and her story give me hope and a reminder.

Born in Egypt, Hagar finds herself hundreds of miles from anything familiar as a house servant to a Hebrew woman who cannot bear children. The woman’s husband has been promised by God that all of humanity will be blessed through his offspring, and it is between this promise and the couple’s doubts that Hagar’s destiny is defined. She becomes a man-made solution to a God-sized challenge. Unknowingly, she moves from obscurity to history’s center stage.

. . . and it’s showtime.

Instead of waiting for God to work in their lives, Hagar’s mistress and her husband create a solution to meet their desire for a child: Hagar will become the man’s surrogate wife and bear his child.

With another woman’s husband, Hagar becomes pregnant, and more trouble brews: her mistress mistreats her so badly that Hagar flees for her life into the Arabian wilderness….alone.

Have you ever wanted to run away, like Hagar?

I have.

Defeated, mistreated, or believing we are alone and solely responsible for the next turn in life, have you ventured out on your own to get away from trouble, to search for relief from the miseries of the hour?

  • The sudden financial loss.
  • The betrayal by a stranger.
  • The misunderstanding by a loved one.
  • A disappointing diagnosis.
  • The realities and looming limits of age.
  • The unspeakable grief of suffering children.

Who wouldn’t, in times like these, be tempted as David was to, “flee like a bird to your mountain?” (Psalm 11:1-3)

But here is where Hagar’s story brings me hope: We cannot outrun the love of God.

Without reaching out to Him, Hagar hears from God. When her focus is only on her inward pain, He takes the initiative.

He sees her, the record tells us, “by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.”

Hagar was at a specific place . . . at at specific time, hurt and running away from trouble, but God knew exactly where she was.

. . . And he sought her out.

Meeting her there, He calls Hagar by name and has two questions for her: “Where have you come from,” and “Where are you going?”

God knew the answers, but He wanted Hagar to face the truth of her circumstances.

He wanted her to stop running away.

And more, He wanted her to understand the truth of His character.

With deep compassion, we read that the Lord blessed Hagar because he saw her affliction.

. . . and sends her back home.

Hagar’s story reminds me we are kept by a God who sees us when we’re running away and is moved by deep compassion to seek us out.

Even when we’re on our own way to Shur.

It’s time to come home.**

“So he told them this parable: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’”

Luke 15:3-6

SMOOTHSTONE: We are kept by a God who sees us when we’re running away and is moved by deep compassion to seek us out.

**Author’s note: While Hagar went back to serve Sarah who had mistreated her, God does not call us back to cruelty, to endure physical or mental abuse. In these situations, He calls us first to a place of safety, then to healing, then to reconciliation, when possible. If you are being abused, leave now, seek a place of safety and the protection of law enforcement, if necessary. This is NOT running away. This is wisdom. You are not alone.

2 thoughts on “On the way to Shur

  1. Thank you for this post. It hit me where I am right now. Thanks for the reminder that God is compassionate and He sees us.


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