“The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.”” (Genesis 16:7–10, ESV)
Return to your mistress and submit to her. God cannot bless us when we run away from our responsibilities. God blesses from within the relationships He has established for us. Despite all of our talk and rationalizing, God still requires that we stay and submit in the situation we are in if we want to be blessed by Him.
Now, I know that the word, “submit” causes most people – especially Americans – to react, often vocally. People today want to be independent, autonomous, self-directed, and simply free to do whatever they want. And we can be. God simply won’t bless us with such an attitude driving our choices.
Hagar was both Abraham and Sarah’s Egyptian slave and also – by Sarah’s design and desire – Abraham’s “second wife.” Thus, while it is considered a vile practice today, Hagar was bound by both her servitude and by her union to Abraham. Even though the 21st Century mind balks at this, it was standard practice in Abraham’s day and God directed Hagar, through His angel to, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.”
Most of our problems in life are compounded when we run. Dislocating ourselves from the source of the problem may, at first, seem to be freeing. However, over time, as our problems seem to multiply like rabbits, we tend to notice – either consciously or subconsciously – that God’s favor has left us and we feel as if we are constantly swimming upstream or against the current of life.
God’s solution for Hagar is the same for us. “Return … and submit.” Those are not the words we want to hear. They are the words we need to obey. For Who knows most about how life works? Is it not the God who not only created life abundant but also sustains it?
Abundant life will spring forth once we return and submit.
Turn-Around Tuesdays are designed to bring hope and help, insight and encouragement to those of us who are simply overwhelmed by the flood of problems life throws at us. No one is immune to trials and troubles, but God has a way of lifting us from life’s torrents. Each short thought is written by Dr. Matthew Lee Smith, Executive Director of Eagles In Leadership, and comes from his life-journey with the God who never leaves us or forsakes us. He welcomes your comments below.