By a Desert Spring

“The Messenger of the Lord found her

 by a spring in the desert,

 the spring on the way to Shur.”  

Genesis 16:7

She was a slave.  Her family, home, and former life was far, far away…in another country.  She was pregnant, mistreated by the wife of the father of her child, and now utterly alone in this harsh desert.  No shelter.  No man to protect her from the many, many dangers in the desert.  A woman without the protection of a man was doomed.  It would be a slow death, surely.  But most excruciatingly painful of all would be to lose the baby she carried.  She would never see his face or hold him.  There was nothing she could do.

Springs in a desert are well-known to all the people of that region.  It was a matter of life or death to know where to find a spring.  She was there, the only place of any hope for her.  But water alone was not enough to keep her alive.  It would merely prolong death.

Her despair must have been unfathomable.  Her story had been one of being “used”…first as a slave with no rights, taken from her home and family.  She had to learn a new language, new culture, new rules and expectations, with strangers now deciding everything concerning her life.  Everything of her former life was gone.   She had to survive an entirely new life, not by her own choice.  That’s what slaves do.  They are “used.”  Eventually she was “used” in the ultimate way…with her own body and deepest intimate part of her heart.

Now, their lives would end together, she and her unborn, only child. . . alone.

But God saw.  He knew. He loved and cared in a deeply personal way for this young slave woman at the little spring, waiting to die.  He had a Plan.

And for the first of only two times in Bible history, God’s Messenger came to a simple young woman, and called her by name.  He then went on to tell her that she would give birth to a son.  He even described what her child would be like.  And God’s own Messenger named this son she carried, “Ishma-el…which means ‘God hears.’”  Every time she would say her son’s name for the rest of her life, it would be a reminder of the God Who Hears….her!

Then, this foreigner, a slave, a girl, so “unqualified” to be having such a conversation with God’s own Messenger, named Him: “Lahai Roi, meaning: The God Who Watches Over Me.”

When we are in those “desert places” in life, no matter how deeply we are feeling alone, forgotten, rejected, or hopeless, thinking that life is over, God isthere.  The “little spring” to which we cling as our hope slips away is not the end of the story.  God Himself “hears”…it’s Who He Is. And in the most hopeless times in life, we can hold on to Who He Is: “The God Who Watches Over Me,” even in our most desperate, hopeless desert moments.


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