Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Genesis 16: 8-16

And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” (vs.8-9)

Whoa! Go back and submit to someone who is mistreating her??? I would not want to draw generalizations about staying in an abusive relationship here, but why on earth is God asking Hagar to do such a thing? Talk about a hard choice to obey! She would have to completely swallow her pride and go back to face the one who was tormenting her - with an attitude of submission - and not just to God through obedience, but to Sarai herself. God tells Hagar specifically to submit “to her.”

Have you ever worked with or for someone who was truly a difficult person in your life? Are you related to a difficult person and you feel justified in NOT going back? OUCH! Been there! I don’t know what difficult thing God might be asking you to do, but I do know that He never asks us to do something without also providing us with the ability and means to do it. Look at what He promises Hagar:

The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” (vs.10)

Okay, that should soften the blow of having to face humiliation and possible harassment. That’s a pretty exciting promise! Then God gets very personal and specific:

The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael or the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (vs. 11-12)

Now, as an expectant mom, wouldn’t you want to hear that your son is going to be loved by all and wildly successful? Would you want to hear that he is going to be a rebellious, stubborn, angry kid, always ready for a fight?? Well, hidden in there, as a word of great comfort, is the name of her son, Ishmael, which means God hears or, as Beth Moore puts it, Yahweh has been attentive to your humiliation. Beth points to the prophecy of Ishmael’s destiny not as a curse, but as a matter of fact. And, surely, the legacy of the Ishmaelites is one of continual fighting and upheaval. Boy! Are we seeing it in today’s headlines!

Beth Moore also points out that after God has given Hagar a name, Hagar turns around and gives God a name, El Roi, the God who sees me, for she responds to his promise, saying, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (vs. 13)

God sees this pathetic servant girl who had despised her mistress and then run away to the desert. He sees her anger, her desperation, her humiliation, and her fear. He knows all about the ugly attitudes within her heart. Yet He very intentionally and compassionately seeks her out to let her know that He sees and still loves her deeply. Hagar finally had what she needed to go back and submit to Sarai, for she knew for certain that God would be with her and that He had a plan for her and for her son.

Isn’t this just the most exciting chapter? God sees us and He has a plan. Whatever difficult thing He calls us to, He will also walk us through. He has our futures laid out on His drawing board and He will deliver us through it all. What are you facing today? A scary medical procedure? A future without a loved one? A financial disaster? The loss of your job or home? Are you being asked to submit to a difficult boss - or even a difficult husband? Trust that situation or person with God. He is the God who sees us!

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