Choose to rejoice. Those were the words on our Lectio365 daily devotional which resonated. CHOOSE to rejoice. I find these long lockdown days I am having to do more choosing to rejoice- don't know about you.
I've been thinking about Hagar recently when she fled into the desert after being mistreated by her mistress Sarah because she had become pregnant by Abraham, at Sarah's suggestion. Now I can't compare my experience with Hagar's, but it does feel a bit desert like as we live our lives without seeing close friends and family, without hugs, without seeing people except on screens, without being able to work in the usual way, without our usual income, without gathering for worship together, without being able to confidently plan any of the above.
Genesis 16 outlines how the angel of the Lord sees Hagar in the desert in her distress, her vulnerability and her hopelessness and tells her to go back to her mistress. I can't imagine Hagar welcomed that word! But God spoke to her in verse 10-13 about the son she was carrying, that she was to name him Ishmael and that her descendants would be increased so much that they would be too numerous to count. What a promise to Hagar that she and her family would flourish and the hope that gave Hagar for the future enabled her to return to her mistress and endure what had been unbearable because of the promise God had spoken to her.
Hagar gave this name to the Lord, El Roi, you are the God who sees me v13. This was the first time this name had been given to God and it was given by a servant girl alone in the desert without hope with no one to protect her and yet God saw her. Not only did He see her, He brought encouragement and a word that would sustain her. I love that.
God sees us. He sees each of us in our distress and speaks words of comfort encouragement and promise over us as we listen because His plan is for us to flourish wherever we are.
A desert place can be a perfect place to listen!