March 5, 2021
Thirsting For Rest Amid Stress
BRENDA BRADFORD OTTINGER
Lee en español
“Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.” Genesis 21:19 (NLT)
I’d barely tiptoed into dreamland before hearing a clamor down the hall. Rising in the moonlit shadows, I tended to the night-owl noise of my offspring before shuffling back to the warmth of my sheets.
Yet my mind had long forsaken sleep, wandering instead through a mental desert of checklists and concerns. A tide of trouble beat against the shores of my soul, begging a prayer or two or ten. My heart is not skilled at laying down a world of worry without putting my sticky fingerprints on it again and again and again.
And in the soft glow before dawn, my thoughts drifted to another weary mom named Hagar, who we meet in Genesis Chapters 16 and 21.
God promised a son to Abraham and his wife Sarah, but Sarah grew tired of waiting and arranged for Abraham to father a child with her maidservant, Hagar. As Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar was regarded as belonging to Sarah, therefore Hagar’s child would belong to her as well. Sarah’s plan for parenthood succeeded, and Hagar delivered Abraham’s firstborn child, Ishmael. Sadly, as Ishmael grew, so did the tension between these two women. (Genesis 18, 21)
Of course, God remained faithful to His promise, and in His appointed time, Sarah gave birth to Isaac. But the conflict between Hagar and Sarah continued, reaching an all-time high when Sarah witnessed young Ishmael harassing Isaac, and she demanded Abraham send Ishmael and Hagar away.
While trekking alone through the desert with nowhere to go, Hagar and Ishmael depleted their last drop of water. Anguished, Hagar placed her son in the shade to eventually die, sat down by herself and sobbed. Her weary heart wept with all the worry and exhaustion of sustaining the survival of her family.
Oh, how her cry echoes through the centuries, resonating in my modern-day soul. So often I drain my last drop of physical and mental reserve, yet still thirst for rest amid stress.
Walking out our varied responsibilities as women isn’t always easy and charmed, is it?
But take heart — hope abides in the most parched of places. This wasn’t the end of Hagar’s story. The Bible tells us that God saw her pain, saying, “… What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid …” (Genesis 21:17, NIV).
God called her by name. He knew her, saw her and cared for her anxious heart in two ways, as only He could:
First, God calmed her soul-deep fears about the future. He assured her that He would take care of her and Ishmael, repeating the promise He gave her in Genesis 16:10. “Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation” (Genesis 21:18, NIV).
And then, there in the midst of Hagar’s desert, God provided a wellspring of relief: “Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink” (Genesis 21:19).
In this timeless tale of a worn-out, worried woman, fresh life abounds for our dehydrated spirits.
Beloved, God knows our names too, and His faithful eye is tracking us through every desert of distress we travel. He hears our cries and comforts us with the tender calm of His whisper: “Do not be afraid,” bringing healing and life to the parched ground of our weary hearts.
Verse 20 shows us, as so many places in the Bible do, that we have a God who can be trusted: “God was with the boy as he grew up” (Genesis 21:20a, NIV).
Be encouraged — He’s still the God who forms living water from desert dust.
Dear God, thank You that You know my name and track my path through life. Please refresh me with Your strength as I walk out the purpose You’ve planned for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 40:29, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (NIV)
Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)
Do you ever struggle trusting God with your kids? You aren’t alone. That’s why Lysa TerKeurst put together “15 Prayers for Your Son” and “15 Prayers for Your Daughter.” These resources will help you fight for the heart of your son or daughter through Scripture-based prayers. We pray these resources help you in your journey of learning to trust the Lord with your kids. Click here to download now!
For more encouragement, connect with Brenda Bradford Ottinger on her website.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How have you sensed God’s presence and provision in the deserts of your life? This week, journal the ways God has shown His faithfulness to you. Return to this list when your strength needs refreshing.
We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Brenda Bradford Ottinger. All rights reserved.