"You are precious and honored in my sight..." (Isaiah 43:4a, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Hagar was a young Egyptian servant girl who had some serious challenges. In the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter 16, we hear of her plight...and of her flight:
"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children but she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, 'The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.'
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived (vv. 1-4a, NIV)."
I imagine Hagar grew up with low self-esteem. As a servant, she probably felt discarded, insignificant, and unimportant. Not only had she been sold to Abram and Sarai, but she was forced to become his wife as well. I don't know about you, but thinking about that makes my stomach do yucky flip-flops!
What do you think that conversation was like when Sarai commanded Hagar to sleep with her elderly husband? How do you think Hagar felt? I find it disturbing and unfair.
When [Hagar] knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, "You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my servant in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me."
"Your servant is in your hands," Abram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her (vv. 4b-6).
I can understand from a fleshly perspective why Hagar would choose to despise Sarai. When another person wrongs us, it's difficult to choose a godly, non-sassy response. We must be careful to pray for God's perspective and power so we don't allow weeds of resentment to overtake our hearts and guide our responses.
Hagar was a maidservant, a slave, who was forced to move to a foreign land and to sleep with the husband of her mistress. Though this was a common practice in that culture, there is still great uneasiness in my heart as I read what Hagar had to endure. She was mistreated--the Bible makes that clear--and she had fair reason to run. However, God caught up with her not too far down the road.
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert, the spring that is beside the road to Shur, and he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?"
"I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered (vv. 7-8).
When faced with difficult circumstances, Hagar ran away. I might have done the same thing. But when she found herself seemingly alone in the desert, God sought her out and called her by name. The God of the universe knew Hagar's name. Hagar was a slave, nobody in the eyes of society, yet our God spoke lovingly through the angel of the Lord to this hurting mother-to-be and whispered promises of blessing to her weary heart.
Then the angel of the Lord told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count" (vv. 9-10).
Stunned that the God of the universe cared to comfort her, Hagar responded by giving God a new name--El Roi, "the God Who Sees Me." She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me" (v. 13).
God pursued a broken woman and lifted her eyes to meet His own. He saw her in spite of who she was or thought herself to be, called her by name, and ministered to her heart. My heart burns with awe at the intimate intervention and tenderness that God showed Hagar, a grieving mom-to-be in a very dark hour.
Each one of us strolls through the wilderness of life at times. Our unchanging God knows your name too. He sees you right where you are and knows the burdens of your heart. God sees each one of us just as He saw Hagar, and bids us to see ourselves through His eyes. Why would He? Because of Jesus. God sees you through the blood-stained curtain of Jesus Christ. Perfect. Forgiven. Precious.
Heavenly Father, thank You for seeing me...even in the times when I feel forgotten and invisible. Your Word says that You know my name and consider me precious. Please speak that to my soul right now. (Pause here to listen...) I love you, Lord. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.
Now it's Your Turn
What can you learn from Hagar's encounter with God in the desert?
Where have you come from and where are you going? Take time to journal or contemplate a response.
So many times, we want to run from our problems and sidestep accountability. Is there a difficulty in your life that you're tempted to run away from or ignore?