“How did you maintain joy during your season of waiting, you know, for children?” My hurting, unsaved friend’s question hung in the air.
Had I walked in joy? Many times I fled from God, trying to hide instead.
Finding joy, especially during dark days, took time. And it was more of a journey.
Two women from the Bible helped me in my trek toward joy—ladies who had struggled and discovered the living water.
One from the Old Testament, the other in the New Testament—both fled. Both hid. Neither knew the One who could save, but He rescued them.
The result not only changed them, but made a broad impact on the people around them.
Hagar’s Story – A God Who Sees Us
The first woman whose story impacted my life was named Hagar (Gn 16; 21:8-21).
She was an Egyptian slave, given to Sarai’s husband, Abram, with hopes she’d conceive and birth an heir.
But when Hagar became pregnant by her mistress’ husband, Sarai was filled with jealousy and mistreated her–and Hagar fled.
A hopeless woman, Hagar felt alone in the wilderness.
But Someone was with her, holding her close.
Though Hagar thought she could flee, she couldn’t run and hide from the One who promised never to leave.
An angel of the Lord met her in the wilderness.
The angel asked her where she’d come from and where she was going. Of course, he knew, but in asking this question, Hagar had to acknowledge she was running away (Gn 16:8).
The angel told her to return to her mistress and promised Hagar numerous descendants (Gn 16:9). He even described specifics concerning the son she was carrying.
How like our good God to offer hope when all seems lost—bringing light to our darkness.
Hagar recognized God—a God who, until she’d met Sarai, was unfamiliar.
Having received God’s comfort, Hagar “called the Lord who spoke to her: The God Who Sees” (Gn 16:13).
She returned to Sarai, gave birth to a son, and obeyed God by naming him Ishmael (Gn 16:11).
Having experienced God personally, Hagar had a story to tell—a testimony.
Returning to Sarai must’ve been scary, but she obeyed—and obedience to God always leads to positive change.
Becoming a mom likely changed Hagar.
As with all children, Ishmael, the older half-brother to Isaac, wasn’t perfect. And this imperfection led to a conflict, resulting in another trip to the desert (Gn 21:3).
Fearing for her son’s life, Hagar laid Ishmael in the shade of a nearby bush and wept—afraid to watch him suffer. Hagar thought they were alone, but The God Who Sees spoke.
“What’s wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid, for God has heard the voice of the boy from the place where he is. Get up, help the boy up, and support him, for I will make him a great nation.” – Genesis 21:17-18
Another promise. And Hagar experienced a miracle.
Upon opening her eyes, she discovered a well—water so they could live (Gn 21:19)!
This water saved their lives when they thought all was lost.
Instead, they saw the promise of God fulfilled.
Through Hagar’s story, we can read about and believe in our God, who always sees us.
Living Water for the Woman at the Well
The second woman who helped spark joy in my faith is the Samaritan woman (Jn 4).
The Samaritan woman, whose name is never revealed, visited Jacob’s well in the village of Sychar around noon.
Married and divorced five times, she lived sinfully with a man when Jesus met her at the well.
Jesus asked the Gentile lady for a drink—and this caught her off guard.
The woman expected to visit the well alone, knowing other women came earlier, in the cool of morning, to draw water. Now this man—a Jew—asked her for a drink.
Despite tensions between the Jewish and Samaritan cultures and their differing genders, Jesus had a plan—and it involved sharing living water (Jn 4:10).
Water that fully satisfies and will “become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life” (Jn 4:14).
When Jesus asked the woman to get her husband, she declined because she didn’t have one (Jn 4:17).
But He already knew her situation (Jn 4:18).
We might think she was an adulterous woman, but in ancient culture, it was legal for a husband to stone a wife who committed adultery.
It’s unlikely the Samaritan woman escaped death after so many marital affairs. Perhaps there’s something else to her story.
We can’t know for sure, but one possibility was barrenness. Perhaps she was unable to give her husband a child, and he was allowed to divorce her.
Suffering such rejection over and over—discouraged and disgraced—perhaps she chose not to marry, but to live sinfully with a man.
We can almost hear her. “What’s the use? I’ll just end up alone.”
This also explains why she wouldn’t want to be at the well when other ladies drew their water.
By receiving this living water, her life was turned around.
Rather than hiding from people, she leaves her vessels and proceeds to tell anyone who will listen to her story (Jn 4:29).
Share Your Story About Living Water
John tells us, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said” (Jn 4:39).
Our stories—our testimonies—matter! They make a difference.
Hagar’s and the woman at the well’s stories impacted my life—helping me through a barren season when I was tempted to flee and hide from God, rather than turn to Him and drink His living water.
Taking my friend’s hands, I peered into her questioning eyes. “Joy in hard times? Let me tell you about the One who sees—yes, about living water.”
An award-winning author, Maureen Miller is a regular contributor to several online devotional sites and Guideposts’ collaboratives. She lives on Selah Farm, a hobby homestead in western North Carolina, with her husband, Bill. Together they raise a variety of animals and enjoy life with their granddaughters. Connect with her on her website and Facebook.