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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba.”—Genesis 21:14 (NKJV)
Abraham was put in the difficult position of sending his servant Hagar and the son he had with her, Ishmael, out of his camp. It was a necessary but painful step of obedience for Abraham to take. But he does the difficult thing and sends the two off into the wilderness with bread and water. Eventually, their water supply runs dry and the wilderness appears to have claimed two more victims. “And the water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs. Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; for she said to herself, ‘Let me not see the death of the boy.’ So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept” (Genesis 21:15-17 NKJV).
Staring dehydration and death in the face, Hagar does something very wise. She cries out to the Lord. Now, if you’re familiar with Hagar’s story, you can see history repeating itself here. Hagar was in the wilderness several years prior after she fled from Sarah (Genesis 16:7). And it was in that experience she came to discover that the Lord saw her and was with her (Genesis 16:11).
No wonder Hagar cried out to the Lord in this dire moment. As it turns out, the Lord responded to Hagar’s prayer, provided a well of water for her and Ishmael, and went on to prosper him until he became a mighty man (Genesis 21:18-20).
We often wonder why God has us go through wilderness experiences in life. They seem pointless, and if we had our way we would just assume avoid them altogether. Who wants the barrenness? Who wants the thirst, the hunger, the desolation? But as we see in Hagar’s life, as well as throughout the rest of Scripture, the wilderness is where we often learn important lessons about God. Hagar learned the Lord was with her in the wild, and this knowledge would be necessary later on when both her and her son’s lives were in jeopardy.
When God has us in the wilderness, it’s always for the purpose of teaching us something we need to know. We may not use that knowledge immediately and it may not seem important at the time, but rest assured it will be called upon eventually as a necessary season of our spiritual development.
Don’t despise the wilderness experiences that God allows; they’re there to teach us and train us in the knowledge of Him. Absorb the lessons they hold and trust their place in the Lord’s ultimate work in your life.
DIG: What did Hagar learn in the wilderness and how did she use this knowledge?
DISCOVER: What does Hagar’s example show us about God’s dealing in our lives? What’s the best response to the wilderness experiences that God allows?
DO: If you’re walking through the wilderness today, ask the Lord to show you how He wants to grow you.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.