Genesis 16, 21:1-21, HCSB
I am often amazed at the honesty revealed in the Bible as I read about different women and their stories. People in the Bible are portrayed with both positive and negative qualities. God wanted us to know that everyone is human and sinful. However, God also shows us over and over again that He loves people, uses them and takes care of them in spite of their weaknesses. The story of Hagar shows the weakness of Sarah, Abraham and Hagar; yet God still cares for them and accomplishes His purposes.
Hagar is the maid-servant of Sarah. She is from Egypt, probably acquired when Abraham journeyed to Egypt during a famine (Gen. 12:10, 16:1). Sarah waited 10 long years after God promised they would have a child, and then she decided to take matters into her own hands. In hindsight, we can see the foolishness of this decision. Sarah shows a lack of trust in God and lack of foresight. There are always problems when there is more than one wife! However, Sarah could not see past her personal pain. Like we often do, she rushed ahead of God to her own detriment. From here on out, there was nothing but conflict between Sarah, Hagar and Abraham. All three share the blame for the conflict.
At one point Hagar, still pregnant, runs away from Sarah. This was before the days of social services. I am not quite sure how Hagar thought she could manage alone and pregnant in the desert, but she left anyway. However, she was not alone; God saw her and told her to go back to Sarah in spite of the harsh treatment. Hagar is amazed that God took notice of her, and she says of Him, “You are a God who sees” (Gen. 16:13b). She obediently went back to Sarah and gave birth to her son, whom God told her to name Ishmael, which means “God hears.” For awhile things are better, but eventually jealousy rears its ugly head again, and Sarah casts out Hagar and Ishmael after he teases Isaac. Once again Hagar is all alone in the desert with her child. Leaving her teenage son near a bush to die, she and the boy cry out loud. God again sees and hears and provides a well of water that they may drink and live.
Hagar’s story touches me, because I see that God cares about everyone, not just His chosen people. We relish the fact that God loves us, but sometimes we forget God loves everyone! God sees everyone, and God hears everyone. Hagar and Ishmael are considered the ancestors of the modern-day Arabs and Muslims; the conflict rages over so many centuries. The rejection Hagar and Ishmael suffered set them on a pattern of conflict that still exists today. Sometimes I get angry when I see the oppression and destruction coming from Muslim extremists. There is hope, however, in the God who sees and hears. God loves these people just like He loves all people, and He wants them to come back to the real God. So I pray for the Muslims; I pray they will find the one true God who sees and hears.
I also thank God for His provision in my own life. Whenever I am desperate, whether by my own fault or someone else’s, God hears my prayer and sees my situation. He will meet me in my deepest need and provide for me just when I think all is lost.