Trusting God with the unresolved. . .
The angel found Hagar by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. The angel asked, “Where are you from and where are you going?”
-Genesis 16: 7-8
I love the phonetic double-entendre here. The angel found Hagar by the spring, on the way to Shur (pro-nouned “sure”). Nothing was “sure” in Hagar’s life, except that everything was uncertain. She had left her home and kindred, putting a difficult situation behind her. The angel asks this wandering one a profound question: “Where are you from, and where are you going?”
It’s a powerful question to ask, when life is full of uncertainty.
Where are you from? In some situations, the answer is meant to be geographic. In others, it’s a question about familial origins. In still others, it’s about educational pedigree or prior employment. But at the heart of the question is something profound. It’s a question that makes you remember who and what has shaped you, and what is now in you. Hagar was from the tribe of Abraham and Sarah, whom God had promised to bless abundantly. When things got complicated, Hagar had set out on her own. But God had promised blessing to the family of Abraham, and the blessing was not left behind. God’s blessing now traveled with Hagar, whether she knew it or not.
Where are you going? That question can be harder. More uncertain. Hagar herself was in the wilderness, lost (literally or emotionally), perhaps grieving the past as she faced the changes before her, her future path undetermined. Where are you going? It’s a bold question to one who is lost. I wonder if she wanted to roll her eyes at the angel, and respond sarcastically: “God only knows.”
Maybe the angel asked the question precisely for that reason. Maybe it was to remind Hagar to trust God in the wilderness. God, who knows when we are or feel lost. Who promises to lead us in green pastures and beside still waters, and to restore our souls. Who will guide us in paths of righteousness, and be with us when we walk through shadowed valleys. God, who knows where we’re from and promises to go with us wherever we are going. Especially when future directions are uncertain. It’s as if by asking the question, the angel was saying, “Remember who has promised to lead you.”
Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are El-roi, which means ‘God Who Sees Me’, and she called the place where she sat Ber-lahai-roi , which means, ‘Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.’ Hagar felt seen by the angel’s questions. Thanks be to God for questions that help us see and be seen.