And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. -Genesis 16:7-9 (KJV)
Have you ever found your life so stressful you wanted to simply run away from it all? Most of us will identify with such feelings and if we are honest will admit we too have fantasized about running away when life gets too difficult. The Word of God shows us how Hagar of the Old Testament took such a drastic step. By no fault of her own, she was placed in an awkward and difficult situation which become too much to bear. Feeling angry, upset, and suffering at the hands of those who had dragged her into her problems, she ran away.
Hagar had a good start and was putting distance between her and those from whom she was fleeing when the Lord found her. The Lord called her by name and asked her where she had been and where she was going. She explained she was running away from her mistress Sarai. The Lord gave her a message which probably knocked her off her feet: “Return to thy mistress and submit thyself under her hands.” We can picture this young servant girl staring in disbelief. “Did I hear this correctly?” She may have wondered. There was no mistaking God’s instructions; go back and submit. This was not what she wanted to hear. No doubt the walk home was a long one.
Many years ago I was serving in a church and the ministry was not going well. I considered not just resigning from the church, but perhaps stepping out of the ministry altogether. I confided in an older pastor my problems and desire to flee. I hoped he would say something like, “You know, Dan, maybe you should resign. Maybe even leave the ministry for a while.” He said nothing of the sort. My older and wiser friend looked me in the eye and said, “Dan, you can’t quit; go back, be faithful, stand firm, and keep preaching the gospel.” Like Hagar, this was not what I wanted to hear, yet the message was clearly from God. Go back and submit to the Lord’s will. I followed God’s leading, the situation improved, and the Lord opened new windows of ministry and opportunity.
What are you facing today which you believe is too much to bear? Do you feel like running away? Trust God’s leading, stand firm, and be faithful. God will take care of the rest.