As someone who grew up in a military family, discipline was always part of my childhood. Whenever I was unruly to my mother, I became fearful as soon as I heard, “wait until your father gets home.” Despite attending a public high school and state-run university, discipline played an important role. My senior year of high school I got an afterschool detention for taking during the morning announcements. As King Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs, rules are designed for your own spiritual protection.
But [a]the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness on the road to Shur. 8 And He said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where did you come from, and where are you intending to go? And she said, I am running away from my mistress Sarai, Genesis 16:7-8.
Running away from home is one of those things that I thought about, but never did. Sometimes adults run away, sometimes in the form of divorce to try to start over from scratch. Following Hagar’s decision to run away from her jealous owner Sarai, Hagar believed that running away for good was the best decision she could make. However, the wilderness is not a safe place to live, let alone have a child all by yourself. Subsequently, this angel gives Hagar an answer that she didn’t want to hear.
The Angel of the Lord said to her, Go back to your mistress and [humbly] submit to her control. 10 Also the Angel of the Lord said to her, I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be numbered for multitude, Genesis 16:9-10.
This same concept also applies to prayer. Some prayers result in clear answers in the form of blessings. Other times in life you will receive a clear no, often in the form of a closed door, denying you the career, job or position that you really wanted. The final way that God answers prayers is by subtle, “not now or not yet.” This response could be a way to test your patience or a way to prepare you for what God has in store for you in the future. If you’re presently like me, disappointed by the answers God has for you, read Luke 18:1-8 so you can discern and learn from a persistent widow who wrestled with God in prayer.
by Jay Mankus