Anxiety -- it grips us and rips us apart at times. Webster's Dictionary defines anxiety as "an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear, often marked by physiological signs (such as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one's capacity to cope with it."
Anxiety is often created by apprehension of an event that has not occurred and most often never does occur. But during anxious feelings, it is very difficult to be realistic. That is why it is so important to have a friend that can help you see past the emotions and into reality. Let's look at Hagar and her anxiety over being sent away from Abraham with her teenage child Ishmael.
Genesis 21:15-16 (NIV) When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.
When Hagar ran out of water, anxiety took hold of her entire being. She ran out of what only she could provide in her small skin of water, but she lost sight of the fact that God never runs out of provisions for us. Hagar did what a lot of people do; she simply gave up, turned away, and became so focused on her hopelessness that she could not see the answer to her problem. She seemingly had no place to turn to for help, yet God had other plans.
Genesis 21:17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation." 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. So, she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
I find it interesting that God heard Ishmael's prayers. It makes me wonder if Hagar was so caught up in her misery, and was so overcome, that she could not even pray to God for help. God is faithful. God had promised Hagar in the past that Ishmael would grow up to be the father of a great nation. God seems so far away though, when we are so bogged down in anxiety and worry. But God never leaves us. We turn from Him. He is there, waiting like a patient father.
Notice the solution to Hagar's problem is within sight of her? Notice that God's answer was right there in front of her in the form of a well? When Hagar stopped and listened to God, Hagar was given the answer. When Hagar was depending on Hagar,
there was no hope. With God, there is hope, and through Christ, there is hope for all of us. Like the old cliché, "you can't see the trees for the forest," Hagar could not see the well for the bushes.
So often God's answers are right in front of us. We need to stop long enough to pray and listen. It is also helpful to seek counsel from our wise Christian friends, who can see the wells apart from the bushes and help us do the same. Finally, Jesus sums it up best in the following verse.
Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.