Cup of Hope Blog: Stay When It’s Easier to Run Away: Foolishness, Looking Back & Returning
Oh how I can relate to the feeling of every ounce of me wanting to run away and hide when the world gets hard and heavy. In fact, my inclination to run is spiking now. I want to run away from the hurt of my heart from the loss of my mom. I want to run away from the memories of her suffering.
I want to run away from people who are wanting to help and support and be kind. I want to run away from music and sit in the silence. Alone.
I’m tempted to run from God. But just when I think I will He reminds me of his faithfulness, goodness, His love for me and for my mom. He reminds me of the present reality of my mom’s complete and whole body. And instead of running, I stay.
The moments when I feel most vulnerable about my own humanity and the frailty of life is when I feel the most like running.
Can you relate to this? Have you felt the tug on your heart that tells you to run away from everything you have trusted in because the rockiness of life. I know it seems like stability exists by ignoring reality.
Running proposes itself to be the best option for the broken hearted, grieving, shattered dreamers. Running from the reality of what it is to the next perceived fairy tale. Outrunning the hurt and the aching of the heart.
The thing is sooner or later the hurt catches up to the runner. And the life we left in the dust to chase after the next fairy tale ends up being more like a dark fable. Reality can’t be escaped, it can only be hidden or hidden from for a time.
This week on Cup of Hope we meet three women who are runners. No, they don’t run on the cross country team. They want to run from the reality of their current circumstances or encourage others to run from their reality.
The first woman we met this week was Job’s wife. Because she was Job’s wife, all the loss that he experienced she experienced too. She lost her children, her home, her crops, her animals. All that is left is their health – but wait. Job’s health is now dwindling. What are they to do? What is she to do with all the pain and the loss, the disappointment and despair?
In Job 2:9-10 we read her plight and Job’s reply, “His wife said to him, “‘Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But Job replied, ‘You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good from God and never anything bad?’ So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.”
Can you blame her? Can you blame her for wanting the suffering to end? But Job at this pivotal moment knew that if he followed his wife’s plight to curse God and die, it would be the death of not just his body but his soul. This death would be a far greater death than passing from this earthly life.
You may be reading this and facing compounded difficult circumstances: loss, grief, financial strain, job issues, marriage challenges, sickness and more. If you find yourself here with layers of suffering will you today choose to see running away from God as “foolishness” and instead run toward Him.
The second woman we encounter this week on Cup of Hope is Lot’s wife. God was in the process of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah because of their heinous and blatant sinfulness. Abraham had pleaded with God to save any who were righteous living there – and his relatives, Lot’s family, were among those saved.
It is during this rescue mission that we meet Lot’s wife. As the family is being led out of town to a safe place we read, “But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26)
She looked back after being given instruction by an angel of the Lord in verse 17, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”
Why did she look back? Why would you have looked back if you were in her shoes?
I think she looked back because part of her longed to run back to the place that was known, to the place that was comfortable – evil as it was – it was her home. I believe she struggled to let go of what was comfortable and trust God in the unknown – even if the unknown meant saving her life and the lives of her family.
Lot’s wife lacked faith in God that what he was leading her into would be better than what she was leaving behind. Her lack of faith drew her to run back to the worst place for her – Sodom.
Hagar, Sarai’s mistress
Finally, this week on Cup of Hope, we meet Hagar. We encounter Hagar running, physically running from her mistress Sarah because of her purposeful and confusing cruelty. Under Sarah’s request, Hagar went to bed with Abram, Sarai’s husband, in order to have an heir.
Then, Hagar became pregnant. And her pregnancy infuriates Sarai – even though it was her idea. Sarai begins to make Hagar’s life miserable by treating her poorly and causing tension in their tents.
So, as any one may do, Hagar determine’s she’d be better off on her own, in the desert than living in the camp with Sarai’s animosity. Hagar runs.
Hagar runs to the desert, and in her running God meets her. Genesis 16:8 says, “ Then the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from and where are you going?’ ‘I’m running from my mistress Sarai,’ she replied.”
As if it wasn’t enough to muster up the courage for her to run away, alone and pregnant to the desert, she was told by the angel to take another hard and scary step.
Genesis 16: 9-10 says, “The angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority. I will give you more descendants than you can count.’”
Return. Returning to what we have run away from is like retracing the steps of hurt. And she was asked to return and trust that God would honor her obedience and give her heirs beyond her imagination. Can you imagine?
I can only imagine what Hagar may have been thinking, “why would I go back to the place that caused me so much pain.” The desert challenges seem less difficult than the challenges of living in the camp with Sarai. At least in the desert her gentle heart would not be wounded.
Regardless of what Hagar may have been thinking, she listened. And she returned. She took hold of the fear of what may be waiting for her and trusted the words of the angel of the Lord. She trusted that there were greater things ahead for her and for her son yet to be born as she faced her hurts and wounds.
Yes, Hagar ran away. She ran away because running seemed easier at the time. And then, when asked to trust God to stay in the middle of the mess, she obeyed and returned to her place as Sarai’s servant, and mother of Abram’s first born son, Ishmael.
These women we were studying this week were faced with layered difficult circumstances. There were no easy ways around any of the situations they faced. In the face of the most difficult days they all chose to run. Which leads me to believe, we too are prone to run. But just like Hagar, may we be able to hear God’s voice calling out to us to return to Him.
Lord, help our wandering hearts when we are faced with compounded levels of difficulty on this earth. Help us Lord STAY when we are tempted to flee from your presence. Help us Lord to not doubt you, and your ability to work all things together for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose. Help us Lord to trust you, as Hagar did, to face the hurt we have tried to outrun, to hide and ignore or forget. And as we face our hurt, help us to know that you are with us, wrapping us up in the warmth of your embrace. Help us Lord to stay. To stay present with you, to stay on our knees before you and to stay our minds on you. Amen and amen. To your name Lord be the glory for our returning to you and staying with you.
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