The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?

Genesis 16 reveals an ancient scenario that stills plays out in our very modern and acutely human lives. You recall how it began? God promised Abraham and Sarah a son in their barren old age but because it wasn’t happening quickly enough, Sarah crafted an I’ll help you help me plan for God. (I still attempt this!) As with all our endeavors to interfere with God’s timing (usually a failure to trust), Sarah’s plan created a mess.

Hagar is destitute, her life has become unendurable, partly a result of her own actions and heart issues but largely due to events which were out of her control. (Most of my painful predicaments consist of both!) Hagar has run away. She’s gone as far as her strength would allow and then she collapses in a heap. She has no food, no water and no one to help.

But God…

I love this part–it’s such a beautiful image of our Father’s heart:

The angel of the LORD found ___________(fill in the blank.) God knows where we are at all times but to be found indicates that we were missing. He pursues. He chooses just the right time to reveal Himself–usually when we’re at the end of ourselves!

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10

Hagar, Sarai’s servant…. God knows her name–He doesn’t say Hey woman, what’s your name? When He included Sarai’s servant in His address He reveals that He knows the details of her circumstances. Being Sarai’s servant was central to the destitution she felt. Please be encouraged that He knows all about us–each and every detail of our disheveled and complicated circumstances!

The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!” John 4:28

Where have you come from? God knows where we’ve been but there’s something very validating about being asked to tell our story. It places worth and value on us and it also allows us the opportunity to consider our past.

“Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance—all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.” Isaiah 51:1

Where are you going? Sounds like a simple question doesn’t it? But I don’t always know where I’m headed, because when I’m running it’s usually from something and the destination is almost always secondary. It’s as though the Lord is inviting us to recognize that. His question allows us to see we’ve substituted our reactive plans for His purposeful one.

“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21

The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count. Gen. 16:9-10

Return & Submit? Ouch! My chest burns just thinking about this! It’s difficult enough to return to the place from which we’ve fled or are avoiding–but to submit to it?  Impossible. In the first place, it’s likely our previous circumstances have not changed and secondly, we have our egos to contend with. (I’ve had to drag my tucked tail back many times in my life, wearing humility like an outdated prom dress.) Who wants to submit to something unfair, unjust, or simply unpleasant

But what if we looked at it from another angle? What if we stopped rehearsing all the nasty details of our unbearable circumstances–stopped describing the water we’re drowning in? Picture with me the throne of God fitted with a storage seat. Imagine lifting the lid and placing each specific element of our situation inside the compartment. Now, can we invite God back on His throne to rule and reign. He’s LORD after all!

“He (Jesus) did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” 1 Pet. 2:23″

This kind of surrender (submission) requires trust, right? But how do we trust someone we don’t know? It’s not enough to know about God we need to know Him for ourselves.

“”Be still, and know that I am God!” Ps. 46:10a

Among other things, Strong’s translates know here as to know experientially. There are no substitutes for this. We can’t know Him simply by hearing what others know about Him–we can’t experience him vicariously either.

I will give you… Here’s the part we all love, right? The promises, the gifts, the good stuff! God lavishes us with good stuff. The bible says that He knows how to give good gifts to His children. He’s been making and keeping promises from the beginning. There is always, always, always a reward for trust, repentance and submission. In this account God promises Hagar some monumental things but sometimes His promises are:

Peace — John 14:27

Grace–James 4:6

Strength–Hab. 3:19

Hope–1 Pet.1:21

So let me close this with a little reality bite. Our promises aren’t always manifested in this life. We may not get that healing. We may not restore that relationship. We may not realize those dreams. But, and here’s the really good stuff, this life we live with its heartaches and storms and torment is a vaporous moment–a temporary blip on an eternal timeline.

If, like me, you find yourself slumped along the road to Shur (ironic play on words) remember that He seeks you out, calls you by name, sets you on your feet again and reminds you of His promises. 

Our greatest promise is God Himself! And there is absolutely nothing that can pluck us from His hand or separate us from His love.


I'm a Jesus-follower. I write about that journey and the ways He steps into the middle of my beautifully broken life to reveal His love. I want my words to please God, encourage faith and inspire hope.

4 Comment on “The Road to Shur

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