For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Jeremiah 29:11
I see the familiar phrase said in graduation commencement speeches. I’ve read it it personal notes from friends when there starting a new job or moving away from their home town.
But, that fact is there will always be unwelcoming circumstances, when hope feels like a distant dream. Sometimes we ask God “how can this be happening?” And then we push this verse aside and look for a different answer. Dread can find it’s way into our thoughts and we may feel like we’re constantly fighting against it. God is always with us in the middle of our fears, but sometimes we wonder if the trials we go through really be part of God’s plan for us.
If you’ve struggled to trust God (I’m sure most of us have) through life’s hardest times, we need to take heart. Many people throughout history have walked this road and discovered what it truly means to trust God.
Let’s look at Hagar. Through her seemingly impossible situation, she learned a life-changing lesson in trust. Her story gives us hope today as we face life’s battles.
So, what can we learn from Hagar about trusting God when our plan for us is scary and hard?
Here Are 5 Things
1. God has a plan when we don’t know which way to go.
Hagar lived in the shadow of Sarah, a well respected and honored woman. The stained relationship between the two women resulted in Hagar making two trips into the desert. The first time, he chose to leave on her own, but the second time, Abraham sent her away at Sarah‘s request. “So she turned to Abraham and demanded, get rid of that slave woman and her son…” (Genesis 21:10). Her circumstances were beyond her control.
When things happen we cannot control, we feel powerless. While there’s no paved road and all you can see is vastness surrounding you. And sometimes there’s no one to offer a helpful word of advise. Like Hagar, we can end up roaming around in the wilderness, without knowing what to do. All we can do is follow God’s plan. (Genesis 21:14).
Emptiness can be scary. It reveals our insecurities, telling us we are alone and validates our fears. (With Satan’s help). But with God, emptiness does equal loneliness. During those times when we don’t have a clue which direction to go, we can let the stillness push away all the distractions so we sense God’s presence more than ever. He will calm our anxious thoughts and give us the direction we seem. “Your own eats will hear Him. Right within a voice with say, “ This is the way you should go, either to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).
2. Releasing control draws us into a deeper place of trust
We can tell from Hagar’s mom instincts that her greatest love on earth was her son, Ishmael. Hagar wanted the vest for him, so why would Abraham send them away like this? Ishmael was Abraham’s first born. How could he condemn his own son to death. Hagar reached her breaking point, so she made Ishmael as comfortable as possible, and walked away. “When the water was gone, she put Ishmael in the shade of the bush. Then she went and sat down by herself about 100 yards away. “I don’t want to watch the boy die, she said as she burst into tears.” (Genesis 21:15-16).
Nothing tests a mother’s Faith like watching her child hurt. Our children will face uncomfortable pain in their lifetimes. Sickness, harsh words, self-destructive choices, and more. If our children are in pain, the hardest things to do is release control of the outcome. Yet, God asks us to put them in His care. Their are times in our lives when we will feel the weight that Hagar felt as she laid Ishmael by the tree. We won’t have The answers, but God promises to be with us. We will sense the overwhelming comfort of His peace as we release control to our Lord.
3. What matters to us, matters even more to God
Maybe your in a place right now. You may feel helpless as you watch a loved one struggling . It’s difficult to imagine that anyone can love your loved ones more than you do, but God does. God tells us in Genesis 27:16 that Hagar cried, but God didn’t respond to her tears. He came when He heard Ishmael. “God heard the boy crying, and a angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, “Hagar, what’s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there” (Genesis 21:17).
God’s care for is defies limitations. He sent His son to earth to experience our joys and sorrows, happy moments and heartache. He understands the depth of our love, because He loves us even more than we can imagine. Matthew 7:11 says, “So if sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him. Be encouraged by this promise every day. As we cry out to God with our cares, we will know He watches over every detail of our lives. What’s important toys is important to God.
4. God’s promises endure through even the toughest trials
When hardships come, it’s easy to slip back into our familiar patterns of “what if’s.” “What if it doesn’t work r? What if God doesn’t answer my prayer?” Our need to know the outcome takes over. And we can come face to face with the unknown, and start panicking. And we forget God’s promises never change.
In Hagar’s first trip to the desert, God made a profound promise. One she could hold onto if she ever felt herself slipping into that place of doubt. The second time, He told Hagar what to do and reminded her of this assurance. “Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.” He promised to give Ishmael “hope and a future,” just like Jeremiah 29:11 says. Had Hagar forgotten God’s promise? She said she didn’t want to watch her boy die. Had she let despair cause her to question God’s plan?
If you have children it’s easy to understand Hagar’s hurt. I’ve been there, May you have been too. Discouragement can chase away our hope, but God’s unending mercy shows up that His promises don’t expire. They are yes and Amen. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken y us to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
5. God is always with us
Then God opened Hagar’s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink. And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness.Genesis 21:19-20
Through all my difficult days, I have to say I’m the happiest now, because I know I will never be alone and that God always has my back. No matter how difficult things get in the future I know God is always by my side with a plan for the future.
When you feel stuck, trust that God has a plan and He will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Not only did God provide just what Hagar needed in her darkest moments, He also stayed with her and Ishmael as they moved into the next chapter of their lives. He will do the same for us and work it all together for our good,