“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ So Abram agreed to what Sarai said.”
| Genesis 16:1-2 |
To set the scene, earlier in the book of Genesis, God had given Abram a promise. A promise of expansion through offspring for generations to come. There was just one minor obstacle – Abram was 100 years old and his wife Sarai was 90 years old and well past her child bearing years. She was as barren as you could get and had been unable to conceive a child her entire life. Impossible!
Then we reach Genesis chapter 16, in which Sarai decides to devise her own plan to bear a child, by asking her husband to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar (talk about a real life soap opera!). Abram agrees (I’m shocked) and does the deed, impregnating Hagar. She becomes bitter toward Sarai, who then mistreats Hagar. Hagar runs away. In the process of running away, Hagar has an encounter with God, specifically, an angel of God.
This Old Testament story reveals a thing or two about God and how He works:
1. God’s plan always prevails
I can only imagine how Sarai must have felt after a lifetime of being unable to bear a child. She would have experienced frustration, disappointment, anger, sadness – a myriad of emotions which led her to take matters into her own hands. Rather than trusting in God, Sarai sought to build a family by unconventional means, which only led to more pain and even worse, inflicted pain upon an undeserving Hagar. Yet God still managed to turn the situation around, giving Hagar a promise of inheritance and later, enabling Sarah (as she is later renamed by God) to conceive a child of her own.
When we build by our own means, we’re susceptible to crumbling in the face of adversity. When God builds, He produces lasting fruit, something that is sustainable in and out of every season.
2. We may run away from a situation but we can never hide from God
Upon being mistreated, Hagar runs away. I certainly don’t blame her – why stick around someone who doesn’t show you any respect? Though she fled, “the angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert” (verse 7) on her way to Shur (meaning “wall” or “wilderness”). Hagar was pretty much on her way to nowhere. This is even more evident in Hagar’s response to the angel’s question: “where have you come from and where are you going?” to which Hagar only responds to the former question.
Although Hagar was headed nowhere, God met her where she was at, redirected her route and gave her a new purpose: “I will increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count” (verse 10).
3. Even when we feel invisible, God sees us
Hagar would have been born into the life of a servant. It was all she knew – how to serve and uphold others whilst being as discreet as possible herself. She was dealt with a life of being unnoticed and marginalised. So you can imagine that being mistreated by her mistress Sarai would have been the last straw for Hagar.
Having grown comfortable with being invisible, it’s no surprise that after her encounter with the angel of the Lord, Hagar identifies God as “the One who sees me” (verse 13). Hagar had given up any hope she may have previously had to live a decent life. Seeing herself as worthless, she was prepared to give it up, along with the life of her unborn son. But God intervened. By showing up, God helped her realise that her life was worth something to Him.
You may discount your worth, feeling like you don’t have much to offer the world. I want you to know today, that when God looks at you, He sees someone worth giving up everything for. So much so that He gave the only Son He ever had in exchange for you.
Every day, God chooses you.
I love when a single story in the Bible speaks to me on so many levels. Please share any other revelations you have received from the story of Abraham and Sarah!