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Not-So-Happy Endings

May 11, 2011

The story of Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar is the stuff of which Lifetime movies are made.   It’s a heartbreaking tale of what happens when we don’t rest our faith in the Lord but instead try to accomplish His plan through our means.

Perhaps it’s because I have made my own fair share of supremely bad choices but I always find myself drawn into Hagar’s part of the story.  I wonder what it must have been like for her … being a servant in the family of the man who was to be “father of nations.”   Was she captivated by the faith of Abraham?   Was she envious of the beauty of Sarah?  Did she jump at the chance to become her master’s concubine or did she feel used by the very idea?   Was her contempt of Sarah really jealousy in disguise?   How deep was her heartache at being sent away and knowing her son had been rejected by his own father?

So many of these questions will never have an answer, I suppose.  But I’m certain I am not alone in feeling a kinship with Hagar sometimes when life doesn’t end up quite like I had planned.   Today, let’s take a quick peek into Hagar’s story.   And perhaps we can learn what her greatest heartache must have been.

Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham in her own misguided attempt to fulfill the Lord’s promise to them for a child … and then when Hagar conceived, Sarah and Hagar had “issues.”   In fact, we find that Hagar “despised” Sarah (Genesis 16:4 NASB).  But Sarah responded in kind.  In Genesis 16:6 we find that Sarah “dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her” (ESV). This, however, is not the end of Hagar’s story, rather it is the beginning.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.  And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarah, where have you come from and where are you going?”  She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress, Sarah.”  The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.”  The angel of the Lord said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” … So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,”  for she said, “Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.”  {Genesis 16:7-10, 13 ESV}

Hagar understood God’s promise to her.  In fact, she understood it so well that she is the first person mentioned in Scripture who gives God a name:  El Roi, the God who sees me.   And God’s promise to Hagar is the same as His promise to each of us today … He sees us.  When life is overwhelming, circumstances are frightening, and we feel as though we are slipping under the tides of sorrow and despair, El Roi remains faithful to us.

I don’t know where you are on this journey of motherhood but I know this:  God sees you!  And He is tenderly watching over you and your family.

Hagar’s story doesn’t have a happy ending.  Though she had heard from the Lord and acknowledged that He saw her, she never embraced Him as her own God, never developed a personal relationship with Him.  And yet, He is faithful, always.  Even when she was sent away again and left to die with her son Ishmael, the Lord spoke to her again and reminded her, “Fear not” (Genesis 21:17 ESV).

Ultimately we know this about Hagar, her son was also made a father of nations and his descendants are as numerous as the sands.  Yet, just as Ishmael lived in conflict with others, so his descendants, the Arabs, remain in turmoil to this day.  Hagar had a promise from God – that He saw her.  And yet she never embraced the God of that promise.

What about you?   Have you embraced not just the promises of God, but God Himself?   Do you have a living relationship with God of Life?  If you are unsure or unclear about what it means to have a relationship with God, please email me at scipturedig (at) comcast (dot) net.  I’d love to share with you how you know not just the promises of God but God Himself.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2011 7:56 am

    Truly sad to realize that God gave her such an “inside” opportunity to know Him, and yet she did not embrace Him. How different history may’ve been if she had made Him her Lord.

    • May 11, 2011 9:36 am

      I know, Julie, I think that all the time as I watch the news. She knew about God but never KNEW Him. Heartbreaking.

  2. May 11, 2011 8:06 am

    You’ve pointed out aspects of Hagar’s story that I’ve never thought about. Hagar was truly always on the outside looking in (looking at a family that wasn’t truly hers and a faith that truly wasn’t hers). So glad God sees and cares about us.

    • May 11, 2011 9:38 am

      I think through all my work with women in crisis, I’ve begun to see those faces of hurting women I know attached to the stories of women in the Bible … I know women whose story has the same ending as Hagar’s. Such a good point – always on the outside looking in. Makes me wonder how we can share truth and grace in such a manner that invites people to join us.

  3. May 11, 2011 12:23 pm

    El Roi has been a truth that I’ve held on to for many years. I’ve read Hagar’s story many times but I typically focused on the comfort found in the truth behind El Roi. In the moment, Hagar exclaims that she has seen the One who sees her. Her response in the moment is encouraging but the long-term outcome isn’t something that I have thought so much about. It reminds me that our greatest need is for a Savior and to choose to embrace the Savior himself in response to the need–not necessarily to acquire knowledge about Him.

    • May 11, 2011 3:14 pm

      Honestly, Susan, I’ve always been like you … loving so much the name El Roi that I missed the real tragedy of Hagar’s life. I love how you said this: “It reminds me that our greatest need is for a Savior and to choose to embrace the Savior himself in response to the need–not necessarily to acquire knowledge about Him.” So true!

  4. May 12, 2011 11:13 pm

    Thank you for what you’ve revealed through this post, Teri Lynne.

    One thought that came to my mind while reading this is how I now find comfort in the truth that God sees me. I feel like sometimes folks may have a misconception that because God sees, then He condemns for what He sees of our failures. But, we know from Romans 8:1 that there is now no condemnation in Christ. So the truth just gives peace and comfort. No one else may be able to see my true heart (for good or bad), but He does. And He loves anyway. 🙂


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