Hagar couldn't bear to watch - or listen.

She tucked her son beneath the scant shade of a spiny bush, staggered about 100 yards away, and tried to plug her ears against his cries for help. But through the flesh and bone of her fingers, she could still hear him.

“Mama! Water! Please, Mama!” he begged, his voice cracking with adolescence and thirst.

Although the heat was oppressive, Hagar shivered with horror. Her baby was dying and she was helpless against the relentless sun and parched winds.

Soon she, too, would die from thirst. More painful than the thought of her own demise was the pleading voice of her son asking for the basic necessity of life that she could not give him—water.

Water could be found in the desert. Living streams flowed beneath the sand, artesian wells hidden, camouflaged by the parched, sun-seared surface. Grizzled desert nomads could smell water, and with a poke with a stick in just the right spot, bring fresh water spurting from the ground. But Hagar was an alien in this land, an Egyptian refugee, brought against her will: she simply didn’t have the knack. She just didn’t know where or how to start.

Sold, bought, used, abused, then discarded, Hagar may have felt that her whole life was a waste except for the baby boy who came from her body. He was all she had in this world. Now he, too, was dying. Jackals smell death. Within minutes, they would savage his flesh; carrion would pick clean his bones. If only they waited until he was beyond pain before they began their work.

Although too dehydrated to produce tears, wave upon wave of soul-wrenching sobs convulsed her. When her spasms ceased, only the wind cried.

Then, above the whispers, she heard the familiar voice from heaven that spoke to her during another time of trouble (Genesis 21:17-18). “What’s the matter, Hagar?” the Voice tenderly asked. “Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” (NIV)

Suddenly, Hagar saw something she had not seen before—a wisp of green. Investigating, she found an oasis in the desert, filled the canteen with life-giving water, and revived her son.

If she hadn’t cried for help, would God have spoken?

If she hadn’t been looking, would God have opened her eyes?

If she and Ishmael hadn’t been thirsty, would they have drunk from the miraculous well?

Yet, all the time she cried, while she searched the barren flats for water, as her son thirsted, the Living Water was there for them.

The voice of the angel still echoes in the desert for every child of God who is rejected by those who should love him, endangered by his environment, thirsty and needy, and threatened by imminent peril. “Fear not! God hears you! Look up! Even in the desert, Living Water flows for you!”

Rebekah Montgomery is the editor of Right to the Heart of Women e-zine, a publisher at Jubilant Press, and the author of numerous books on spiritual growth. She can be contacted for comments or speaking engagements at rebekahmontgomery.com.