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God’s well never runs dry

God’s well never runs dry
God’s well never runs dry
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text: Genesis 16:4-7, 21:17-21

Devotional text: Jeremiah 2:13

Throughout the Bible, we read about wells, those sustainers of life that give water to the thirsty. In ancient Israel, easy access to well water meant the difference between life and death.

In the Old Testament, we read about a number of wells dug in honor of God or in remembrance of a certain life-giving event. One of the earliest mentions of a well in the Bible comes from Genesis 16:7. In this scripture, Hagar, who had run away from Abram’s wife, Sarai, is found at a well by an angel of the Lord.

This was a time when Sarai had yet to bear a child. According to custom, she could rightfully offer a female servant to the husband in order to bear a son to carry on the family name. Sarai offered her maidservant, Hagar, to Abram.

We must note at this point that the Lord had come to Abram previously and told him he would, indeed, bear a son. Since both of them were advancing in age, and Sarai failed to conceive, she decided to take matters into her own hands, hoping for a son through Hagar. After all, God had promised a son and already Abram was nearing 87, and she herself was but 10 years younger than her husband.

This sounds like a scene from anyone’s life today, doesn’t it? We still lose our patience waiting for God’s answer to our prayers. So often, God just doesn’t seem to work fast enough for us. Sometimes, he brings us forward with a partial answer and then we still have to wait for more to come.

Instead of learning patience, we decide to take matters into our own hands, sometimes even rationalizing that what we decide to do is what God would have us do anyway. Growing weary of patience has gotten more than one person in trouble in the Bible, just as it often does for us today.

We forget that God’s timing is always the right time. Only God knows what is coming into our lives in the future. That is why we must trust in God’s timing. For our part, it is to keep trusting God and not to lose our faith in him.

As we see in Genesis 16:4-6, once Hagar became pregnant by Abram, Sarai responded in anger. She was angry with Abram because he had acted on her decision. She was angry with Hagar, too, fearing now that she was pregnant she would look down on Sarai for being barren. This was intolerable for Sarai.

In verse seven, we find that Hagar had decided to run away from it all. As she was resting by a well, an angel of the Lord came to her and told her she would have a son and she should name him Ishmael, which means “God hears.”

She was encouraged by the angel to return to Sarai and Abram. God had plans for her son, but running away was not the answer.

We can probably all understand Hagar’s predicament. Things certainly hadn’t turned out as she had planned. Being the mother of Abram’s son should have given her a special place within the household. However, Sarai’s anger was not going to let that happen.

When Hagar returned, life did not all of a sudden become wonderful. There were still difficult times. The difference in her life was the visit from the angel at the well. God knew her and had spoken to her; she would wait for God’s timing.

From that time on, the well was named Beer La-hai Roi, translated as “the well of him that liveth and seeth me,” or, in other translations, “the well of the vision of life.” Hagar had taken the Lord’s advice and no longer ran from her problems; instead, she learned to face them knowing that God had seen her, spoken to her and cared about her and Ishmael’s future.

Do we find ourselves running from problems today, afraid to face them?  Hagar’s story speaks to us as well. Running away is never really an answer. Trusting in God is.

The next chapters lead us to 12 years later. At the age of 99, the Lord came to Abraham to establish his covenant with him. He also changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah.

God’s timing had also come to fruition as the Lord God told Abraham that Sarah would give birth to a son at that same time on the following year. They were to name him Isaac, which means “he laughs.” So, Abraham, at the age of 100, and Sarah, who was 90, became parents.

The Lord also remembered Hagar and Ishmael and blessed them. In Genesis 21:8-13, once again Hagar, now with her son, left the couple, but this time with God’s blessing.

Now we come to a second well in the story of Hagar. This time it happened as they were running out of water, and God called to Hagar from heaven.

In Genesis 21:17-21, God told Hagar he would make “a great nation” from Ishmael. Then, in verse 19, the Lord opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well of water. At the end of these scriptures, we find the Lord giving further prophecy about Ishmael’s future.

God, the giver of life, is the well of living water. He is the God who saves. In both Psalms and Proverbs, we find God referred to as “the fountain of life.” Jeremiah 2:13 tells us that God is “the spring of living water.”

As we think on these scriptures, next week we will read about the encounter of Jesus and a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well.