In today’s episode of All God’s Women we continue in our Worn Out Women series with Hagar. If any woman was worn out and weary, Hagar certainly was.
Hagar used to make me very uncomfortable. I didn’t like anything about her story because, well, she was just such a victim. It didn’t seem fair to me.
But then, as I got to know her better, I discovered that she has one of the most blessed testimonies of any woman in the Bible. So now, I’m excited to share her story with you because it’s not depressing; it’s encouraging.
Hagar was an Egyptian slave acquired by Abraham to be a handmaiden for his wife Sarah.
Her life story hinged on the insecurities of Abraham and Sarah. They journeyed to Egypt due to a famine in their land. Had they trusted in God to provide, they would have never entered Egypt nor acquired Hagar. Had they trusted God when He said He would send them a son, Sarah would have never given Hagar to Abraham as a second wife, and he would have never agreed to it. Had Sarah not been riddled with jealousy when Hagar conceived and grew prideful, Sarah wouldn’t have mistreated and abused her, causing Hagar to flee for her life.
Hagar was a victim, caught up in circumstances out of her control. She was thrust in the bondage of a godly couple who put her in an awkward situation, and then blamed her when things didn’t turn out the way they expected.
Perhaps as a young girl Hagar had dreams of love and romance, but any illusion for a fairy tale life had dissolved years ago. Hagar’s reality was taking care of other people, providing for them with no expectation to be taken care of herself.
She demanded little out of life, but when she found herself pregnant with the child of the patriarch Abraham, well, maybe it went to her head.
Feeling inflated with importance over the unexpected development in her life, she flaunted it in the face of Sarah, her master, the woman who had beauty, wealth, and the love of a good man, but who didn’t have a baby.
Pride has a way of smacking us in the face, and in Hagar’s case, Sarah didn’t take kindly to Hagar’s superior attitude.
With Abraham’s approval, Sarah took out her frustration on Hagar, striving to abuse her into submission. When Hagar had all she could take of Sarah’s mistreatment, she fled from God’s people into the wilderness. She needed to get away, so she headed towards Egypt, her homeland.
Perhaps she would have made it if God hadn’t stopped her while she was drinking from a spring on the side of the road.
The Angel of the Lord asked Hagar where she was coming from and where she was going. Hagar told Him she was running away from Sarah.
He told her to go back and submit to Sarah. But then He gave her a promise. “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude. Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” Genesis 16:10-12 (NKJV)
It was an odd prophecy and not one that I would have welcomed, but to this poor handmaiden, it was exactly what she needed.
You see, she didn’t focus on the words, but who it was speaking them. Though it says Angel of the Lord, He speaks in first person, I will multiply your descendants. God Himself sought out this lowly handmaiden.
Hagar marveled that the God Who Sees could see her. She need not worry about the future because she knew she was not alone.
Hagar was not a child of God. She was not part of God’s chosen people. She was a pagan slave, considered property by the world. She’d been taken away from her homeland then rejected by those who were supposed to be caring for her. She was nobody.
And yet, she was somebody to God. He loved her and cared about her enough to personally reach out to her, love on her, and encourage her with a word of prophecy.
Hagar returned to Abraham and Sarah. She bore a son, just like God said. They named him Ishmael, just as God instructed. And then she got caught up in life and forgot about her wilderness meeting with God.
But fourteen years later, she ended up back in the desert. This time with Ishmael. Abraham and Sarah had sent them away, and though Abraham had given them a little bread and water to take with them, it had long ago run out. Hagar and Ishmael were stranded in the desert with no food or water to sustain them.
Hagar may have been upset the first time, but this time she was worn out and weary to the point of complete despair. She was convinced that both she and her son would soon die.
Though Hagar had met God in the wilderness before, she didn’t know how or where to meet Him again. When it looked like they were going to die in the desert, she laid Ishmael under a bush then walked away so she couldn’t hear his cries as he lay dying.
Hagar wept as she watched her beloved, her only son, dying. How weary and powerless she must have felt. But God gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.
God didn’t let Hagar and Ishmael die that day. Instead, He called down from Heaven and asked Hagar what ailed her, as if He didn’t know. He told her not to be afraid, for He’d heard the boy’s cries.
He told her to lift up her son because God was going to make him into a great nation. And just like that, God opened up her eyes to a nearby spring. And they drank from it and they were quenched.
They ended up spending the rest of their lives living in the desert. Ishmael became a gifted archer. And, yes, he became the father of a great nation.
Had Hagar remained in Egypt, had she never been acquired as a servant for Sarah, had she never been mistreated by Sarah, she would have never met God in a personal way.
Hagar lived with Abraham and Sarah for many years. She was with them when God spoke to Abraham and revealed Himself to him. But it wasn’t until she was in the wilderness that Hagar met God.
Though God spoke to numerous men in the Bible, He spoke to few women in an audible manner. Hagar was one of those blessed few, and it all came about when she was in the wilderness desperately running away from a bad situation.
None of us want to spend time in the wilderness, but it’s more than worth it if that’s where we get to meet one on one with the Lord. If today you’re dying and desperate in the desert, call out to the Lord and listen when He speaks to you. Allow yourself to be filled with His goodness and love so that you can move on with life a changed woman.
Lord God, thank you for seeing us in every situations and for coming to us when we need you the most. Thank you for your overwhelming love and compassion. Lord, for those women who are feeling desperate and alone today, please reveal youself to them in a mighty way. Speak to their hearts, heal their pain, shower them with your goodness. Forgive us those times we doubt you and forget to call out to you. Remind us that you are always with us wherever we may be. We love you so very much. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week for our final episode in the Worn Out Women series where we’ll be looking at Rizpah, a woman forgotten by her peers.
Remember that you can take your Bible study to a new level with the Worn Out Women Bible study at the All God’s Women website. There you’ll find daily assignments, scripture reading, prayer prompts, review questions, and guidance in how to study the Bible on your own. There’s even a guide to start your own women of the Bible home Bible study. So check it all out at www.allgodswomen.com
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