In our series on ‘Questions’, looking now at questions God asks us, we looked tonight at Hagar and the question the angel of the Lord asked her: ‘Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ (Genesis 16:8) God’s questions can find us wherever we are, even when we are in despair and running away from difficult situations, as Hagar was, and they have the power to transform us and enable us not only to face the difficult circumstances which have shaped and scarred us, but to move on, transformed and enabled because of God’s presence with us.

The question comes to Hagar personally, using her given name, not only her status as Sarai’s slave. God speaks to each one of us personally. He loves us personally. We are known to Him by name. Jesus made it plain to His disciples that they were individually important to God. ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ (Luke 12:6-7) No matter how insignificant or unimportant we may feel, God knows us and loves us.

When God asks where we have come from, the question encompasses our past and all that has shaped us into who we are. Hagar was an Egyptian slave. We don’t know much about her background, but she was not free to do as she pleased or to live as she wanted to. We may well have baggage from our pasts which needs to be dealt with, but we can be sure that the God who loves us can help us to be set free from anything which would seek to limit us and hold us back.

Rom 6:17-18 and Rom 8:1-4 remind us we have a new future now that we are no longer slaves to sin because of what Christ has done for us. In Jesus, God has done something about the grip of sin; He has taken on human flesh and Jesus has offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin. We don’t have to live the way we used to anymore. There is a new way of living: God’s way. We don’t have to be defined by our past; we can live in the freedom Jesus has purchased for us.

God’s plans for us are not to harm us but to give us hope and a future. (Jer 29:11) Even if you are currently in situations that are far from ideal, facing issues that are insurmountable to you, God is able to work in your life to deliver you from all evil and to work for good in everything. (Rom 8:28) This is the hope we have.