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This is part of a series of devotions reflecting on the lines of the Lord’s Prayer with an eye toward themes of justice and reconciliation. Explore more entries in this devotional series. 

Where heaven and earth meet for all the afflicted

Additional Scripture: Genesis 16

I t is no secret that God heard the cries of the Israelites. We are familiar with their cries as we often weave our own cries with theirs. The pains afflicted by Egypt are raw and sore. The pains in our world today are raw and sore. Thankfully, God hears our cries. Again and again, God leads us out of Egypt, out of pain.

As we are led onward from the Red Sea, we pass the wilderness of Shur. Our hearts barely register this place. Nothing remarkable—for us. But this is not the case for Hagar. She is the other, the Egyptian slave girl of Sarah. Hagar is running away because she is afflicted by her Israelite mistress. Hagar is near the spring on the way to Shur when she meets the angel of the Lord. Evidently, God hears the cries of this afflicted slave girl. And the angel of the Lord says to her, “Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; you shall call him Ishmael, for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.”

Imagine, if Shur has ears, she would listen to the deafening footsteps of the Israelites. A big-scale exodus. Imagine, if Shur has a mouth, she would whisper in our ears: “There is another pursuit of freedom. A small-scale exodus. Do you know I also listen to the lonely footsteps of the other Egyptian slave?”

What would be our answer to Shur, if we are honest?

Regardless of our answers, God hears. God pointedly names Hagar’s son Ishmael, which means “God hears.” Because God hears her, Hagar becomes the only woman in the whole Bible to name the Lord: El-Roi, the God who sees.

Related: Hagar: The Woman Who Named God

Is it a secret that God sees and hears not only Israelites but also Egyptians? I wonder.

Prayer: As you were with the afflicted in the wilderness of Shur, be with all your children from each side of the river. Dear God, give us ears and eyes to hear also the cries of Hagar. Help us to say sorry to other races and mend the wounds. May your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Learn more about the meaning of this line of the Lord’s Prayer.

Jui Lin Ou Yang headshot
Jui Lin Ou Yang

Jui Lin Ou Yang graduated from Andover Newton Theological School in 2018 and is a candidate for ministry in the Reformed Church in America. Fluent in Taiwanese, Mandarin, and English, she serves as an itinerant pastor in Greater Boston.

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