Hagar: Seen & Heard

by Raquel Rodriguez

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)

So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The LORD will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. (Genesis 16:1-6)

Sarai and Abram have just been caught red handed, scheming against the Lord’s will. Hagar is now directly affected by their lack of patience, trust, and obedience to God. She was, in every sense of the word, a victim. As an Egyptian, we can conclude that though she lived with Abram (the Father of the Faith) she knew of God but not in the intimate and personal manner that her masters did. She was a foreigner, abused, alone, desolate, powerless, without rights, defenseless, helpless, poor, and pregnant. How awful to think that the desert was a better option than the comforts of a home.

Is Hagar’s predicament similar to yours? Are you a victim of someone else’s disobedience? Are you a foreigner, or do you feel like one in your surroundings? Have you been abused and/or mistreated? Are you alone, desolate, powerless, defenseless and/or helpless? Do you find yourself with no rights? Are you poor? Is your burden heavy? Are you found in the desert? Have you given up? If you answered yes to one or all, I beg you to continue reading.

The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.” And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress. (Genesis 16:7-11)

The rhetorical questions the angel asks encouraged her to pour out her to God. And when she did, He gave her two commands, “return and submit”. I’ll be very honest with you when I say that I nearly fell out of my seat the first time I read this. How could God send her back to that environment? I asked God for an answer, and He responded. One, this command was specific to Hagar. If you are found in an abusive environment, seek the Lord, godly counsel, and professional help for direction. Two, obedience to God is necessary. Hagar would need to trust that God’s guidance was in her best interest: See Psalm 32:8-9, Proverbs 16:9 and Isaiah 55:8-9,11. Three, Hagar’s submission to Sarai would be her outward submission to God: See Ephesians 6:5.

God not only spoke commands to Hagar, He also spoke promises and blessings. He continues to speak direction, promises and blessings to us today! He proves to be the God who hears our affliction, our cries, our prayers and even the silent groaning of our heart. The Lord has taken notice of you. He knows that you are weak, and so He promises to be strong on your behalf. He knows when you are alone, and so He promises to be a Father to the fatherless and place the solitary in families. He knows that you are defenseless and helpless, and so He rises as your Defender, Counselor, Helper, Redeemer, Warrior and Savior. He knows that you are poor, and so He is and will forever be your Provider. He knows the burdens you carry and promises to carry it for you. For all that you are not, He is.

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13)

Have you seen the One who sees you? How?

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