Why does God allow us to hit bottom?

Have you ever been desperate? Did you wonder why God allowed you to be in that situation? Did you wish that God would intervene and prevent your situation?

Genesis tells us about a time when Hagar hit bottom. She and her son were wandering in the wilderness and ran out of water. Hagar gave up hope, but God intervened and saved them. God’s timing when He intervened is a lesson for us when we go through our difficult situations. As you read the following verses, notice when God intervened. Did He intervene when the situation started to deteriorate, or when it was at its worst?

Gen. 21:9 Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking.

Gen. 21:10 Therefore she said to Abraham, “Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac.”

Gen. 21:11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son.

Gen. 21:12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named.

Gen. 21:13 “And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant.”

Gen. 21:14 So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Gen. 21:15 ¶ When the water in the skin was used up, she left the boy under one of the bushes.

Gen. 21:16 Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, “Do not let me see the boy die.” And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice and wept.

Gen. 21:17 God heard the lad crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.

Gen. 21:18 “Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.”

Gen. 21:19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the skin with water and gave the lad a drink.

Gen. 21:20 ¶ God was with the lad, and he grew; and he lived in the wilderness and became an archer.

Gen. 21:21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

MapGod did not intervene when they started to run out of water. Instead, He intervened when they were completely out of water and out of hope. Why did God wait to intervene? If He was able to provide water miraculously, why didn’t He do it earlier before the situation got desperate? Consider the following verses:

Rom. 5:3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;

Rom. 5:4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

As much as we don’t like going through trials and tribulation, tribulation is actually good for us. Tribulation makes us a better person by developing perseverance and character. And just as God allowed Hagar to hit bottom, sometimes He allows us to hit bottom. The next time you find yourself in a desperate situation and wonder where God is, remember Hagar. Remind yourself that God will intervene at the right time, and that your current situation will develop perseverance, character, and hope.


Further Reading

Do you ever wonder where life went wrong?

Do you really believe God can do anything?

What should we do when the future seems bleak?


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”