The comfortable for the uncomfortable.
The traditions, customs, and culture of home for the traditions, customs, and culture of strangers.
I have never before been so struck by the story of Hagar as I have been this past week.
This woman was taken from all that she knew and was taken to Canaan with Abraham and Sarah when they made their shameful retreat from Pharaoh’s court. In returning to Canaan she is told to sleep with Abraham so that she could bear the child that Sarah feels Abraham is to have for the promised seed.
Hagar went through with it because she had no choice. And she did conceive a child and it tore at the frail thread of humanity that existed between the two woman. Hagar resented Sarah, and Sarah, in turn, treated Hagar terribly.
And so Hagar ran. She ran because she hurt. She ran because she was alone. She ran because no one understood her, no one cared for her, no one saw her. There was no one to hold her and tell her that things were going to be ok – and as far as Hagar could see things just weren’t going to be ok.
She ran and she ran – as fast and as far as she could flee into further solitary.
And in her desperate, hurting, lonely state the Lord finds her and talks with her. And He reveals Himself to her as the God who sees – El Roi.
He saw her past. He saw her current problems. And He saw her future.
What a comfort it was to her that the God of the Ages, the Creator, the Almighty God saw her. He saw her and she saw the evidences of that.
I have always struggled with seeing a connection to Hagar’s story until this week when it hit me hard; loneliness.
We all struggle with loneliness from one degree or another, don’t we?
Whether it is leaving a family, a country, a culture and traditions, or being surrounded by the familiar; places don’t have to be new to feel lonely.
The loneliness can be overwhelming and gut wrenching – and that’s ok. That loneliness should propel us to run with all we have to the Lord, our Strong Tower. He is the God who sees us – the past, the present and the future. He knows the pain of our heart and He is so faithful in His loving kindness.
He tells us throughout scripture to remember the works of the Lord – sometimes in the lowest moments we can be encouraged simply by remembering His faithfulness.
Have you been in a strong tower? Perhaps an old castle, a fortress, a light house … just something large and strong. It offers a completely unique perspective standing in the safety of a towering structure – people, cars and trees below seem smaller. You can see further than the ground perspective offers. You can sense the safety this tower once offered to those inside when it was functioning.
That is what is offered to us when we run to God as our Strong Tower. We are given a different perspective of the very situation that sent us running to Him.
Our loneliness is an opportunity to realize that God sees, and in Him seeing us we can experience anew His faithfulness.